Newbery Project – Hope Was Here

A very sweet book. It almost made me want to quit my job and take up waitressing, Hope was so convincing in describing how essential a good server can be to changing people’s lives. (She makes it clear that it’s hard work too, but it’s the joys and triumphs that stick with me.)

I appreciated that this book did not have an unrealistically happy ending. The ending was still happy, but not in a rainbows and sunshine perfect way that would have done a disservice to the rest of the story.

I wonder how many kids read this book and then wanted to get into local politics? The political situation is a bit too simple for real life (most of the time corruption is far harder to prove, and people in real life are rarely entirely corrupt) but it was appropriate for the audience. I would have made Hope 12 or 13, she often seemed too young for 16, though that, of course, would have meant she couldn’t work. The very young-voiced narrator on the audiobook I listened to may have also contributed to that impression for me.

I loved the symbolism behind the grafting of trees when Hope is adopted.

The setting was clear, the writing was good, the characters were well-drawn. I suspect that there was a lot of debate the year that this book won a Newbery Honor, though I would agree with the committee’s choice to give the actual Medal to A Year Down Yonder.

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