I love Joan Bauer's books. Her characters are diverting and dedicated to a pursuit. They usually have lost a parent, live in small towns or rural areas, and lead lives that revolve around food. They are either growing it, serving it, or cooking it. Last week I reviewed Squashed; this week I'm writing about two: Hope Was Here,a Newbery Honor, and Peeled.
by Joan Bauer
Hope Was Here is the story of a sixteen-year-old girl looking for her place in the world. Hope lives and works with her Aunt Addie, her "number-one constant." Aunt Addie and Hope are serial diner workers: Addie cooks and Hope waits tables. They've worked in restaurants all over the country, and Hope really hates the transient life, though she took to waiting tables "like a hungry trucker tackles a T-bone." The "gift of waitressing" is from Hope's mother, whom she's only seen three times since being abandoned at birth. Hope has no idea who her father is, but she desperately wants to find him.
At the end of her sophomore year, they're on the move again. Because her business partner has taken all of their money and run off with the night waitress, Addie must shut down their Brooklyn restaurant. Cabbie Morty, a regular at their Brooklyn diner, tells Hope, "Wherever you go, you'll do okay. You've got heart." Where they're going is Mulhoney, Wisconsin, where they have lined up jobs working for G. T. Stoop, a man plagued with leukemia and running for mayor. Hope doesn't expect much from Wisconsin, certainly not to get caught up in small-town politics and corruption. Nor does she expect to fall in love or to finally find the father she's always wanted.
by Joan Bauer
Peeled concerns Hildy Biddle, who lives on her family's apple orchard in upstate New York. When she's not picking apples, making apple sauce and cider, or selling apples and apple products at the local farmer's market, Hildy is a reporter for her high school paper, The Core. Hildy's father, who died of a heart attack when she was in eighth grade, was also a reporter. From her father, Hildy has acquired a "fierce desire to find the truth and help others find it, too."
The story Hildy is following centers on a ghost. Old man Ludlow died in the grove of apple trees on his property and is thought to haunt his old house. Now an out of towner is found dead in the same grove of trees where old man Ludlow died. While the local paper is sensationalizing the story and playing on people's fears, Hildy is trying to uncover the truth. She doesn't want to entertain or scare her readers; she wants to inform them, an approach to journalism that she fears may be completely outdated. Her inquiries have rattled some chains: The mayor, the editor of The Bee, and an out-of-state realtor don't like Hildy asking so many questions and are determined to silence her. She's equally determined to stick with her story until her story is done.