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review 2016-12-01 17:24
Hope Was Here - Joan Bauer
Hope Was Here - Joan Bauer

When Hope and her aunt move to small-town Wisconsin to take over the local diner, Hope’s not sure what to expect. But what they find is that the owner, G.T., isn’t quite ready to give up yet – in fact, he’s decided to run for mayor against a corrupt candidate. And as Hope starts to make her place at the diner, she also finds herself caught up in G.T.’s campaign – particularly his visions for the future. After all, as G.T. points out, everyone can use a little hope to help get through the tough times… even Hope herself.


Filled with heart, charm, and good old-fashioned fun, this is Joan Bauer at her best. (From Goodreads)


If this Joan Bauer at her best, I’m not sure I’m going to read anything else.


Before I read this book, I read the synopsis. Then I read the book. Now I’m rereading the synopsis and I still have no clue what this book is supposed to be about. There is no real plot. The only thing driving the book forward is not strong enough to be considered a plot. Could it be pulled out and the book still survive? No. Could you replace it with something else along those lines. Easily.


The book is literally about a dying man running for mayor and waitressing. So if you’re a waitress, read this for some tips. That’s all your going to get out of it.


The characters were bland, and had no real personality. Things we found out about Hope had nothing to do with the book or anything important. For example, her name is actually Tulip, but she wanted to rename herself Hope to bring hope to people. The dumbest reason I’ve ever heard, but hey, you do you.


I’d say the best character in the book was Braverman and he was all over the place. From the first page we meet him, we’re supposed to assume that he’s this moody, kind of a jerk teenage boy, but it turns out he’s like 18 and actually a huge dork. But then later in the book, we start to get the moody side again. Pick a side and stick with it.


Also, Hope was written as a twelve year old girl and her voice stayed that way throughout the whole book, so imagine my surprise when I find out she’s actually 16.


This book, in my personal opinion, should not have been given an award. I think I wrote fanfiction with more depth when I was fifteen then this.


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review 2015-09-07 06:18
Hope Was Here
Hope Was Here - Joan Bauer

A voice-y coming-of-age novel full of similes/metaphors/adages, food and politics. Strangely wonderful.


There are several weird racial/ethnic bits in this book that I didn't remember (sushi to determine food sophistication*, attributing a saying to a "Chinese philosopher," "the most beautiful African-American woman,"** "Mexican eggs," "dressed like Eskimos") but nothing egregious.


*Hope doesn't seem to anticipate meeting any Japanese people (or maybe if she met a Japanese person they would automatically be seen as a food sophisticate?). There are no Asian characters in the novel so we'll never know.


**This feels very close to "pretty for a black woman" but doesn't quite get there. It would have been just as easy to write that Brenda Babcock is beautiful and then describe her as a black woman.

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review 2015-04-09 00:00
Stand Tall
Stand Tall - Joan Bauer Again I'm astounded by Bauer. Her heart, her understanding, her way with words. She's fabulous and I highly recommend anything I've read so far (Backwater, Hope Was Here, Stand Tall...is that all?).

I don't make a habit of retelling the story, so I won't do it here either. Sorry.

A boy protagonist! Bauer doesn't employ that device often and I wish she would! Not that her females aren't fantastic, because they are...but Tree was wonderful. He was real and so was his life.

This book deals with friendship, family relations, divorce (what kids really feel about it and how lame the parents can be sometimes in efforts to smooth things over, Tree's mother was a moron, but Sophie had an interesting take on that), war (one of my favorite parts of the book), service, loyalty, being who you are, etc.

Just fabulous. I highly recommend to anyone. I do not know if a child going through a divorce would do well with it or not, fortunately my life has not been impacted personally by divorce so I don't know how it would really feel to read a book like this. Perhaps someone with experience could share?

Great for probably 10 & up.
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review 2015-04-05 00:00
Close to Famous
Close to Famous - Joan Bauer A sweet, heartwarming book.
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review 2015-01-07 17:13
Close to Famous
Close to Famous - Joan Bauer

One of the issues covered in this book that spoke to me the most was how Foster dealt with her dyslexia.  As a middle school teacher I have some experience working with dyslectic students.  Most have been identified, provided services at the elementary level, and have learned to cope with this disorder.  However some children go undiagnosed, they become “problem” students, and are even bullied by their peers.  Even though teachers are given modifications, many teachers lack addition training and information in this area.  Foster remained me of a student I had who I noticed struggled tremendously in class because he was undiagnosed.  Being able to experience Foster’s frustration with her learning disability is going to help me better understand some of my students’ frustration.  Another interesting point covered by the book was Foster’s dream of becoming a profession TV baker.  I think it is important for children to set goals and have interests.  Her passion for baking was her escape, and how she coped with her grieve and adversities.  It even help relieve tension when Duke, the escaped convict, held everyone hostage in the house.  Foster always saw the brighter side of life when she baked; which helped turn around the lives of some of Culpepper’s citizens.  

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