Study Guide

Addie in Hope Was Here

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Addie is Hope's aunt, her mother's big sister. When Hope's mother leaves right after Hope's born, Addie takes on the job of raising her. It's an itinerant existence. Addie's forced to pull up stakes many times when her restaurant jobs don't work out, but she takes on every new challenge with her usual determination. She's got a can-do, no-nonsense attitude that helps Hope cope with all the moves and changes in her life. When they arrive in Wisconsin, Addie tells Hope,

"We're not going to hide from the truth. This is probably the hardest move we've made together, honey, but we're going to give it all we've got to make it work, and if it still doesn't fit, we'll decide what to do. We won't stay some place that isn't right forever, I promise."

[…] Addie always keeps her promises.

That's why my mother gave me to her. (22)

While we wouldn't expect a woman with "strong, muscled arms [...] like a wrestler" (22) to wear pink silk pajamas to bed, we wouldn't expect her to hit the sack in an "industrial-strength nightgown" (22) either. But Hope's description of Addie's sleeping apparel is very fitting (no pun intended). The woman's like a knight in shining armor—she came to Hope's rescue sixteen years ago and remains the one constant in the young girl's life.

Addie's been my number-one constant. She stood by me in the hospital at my little oxygen tent telling me to come on and get strong. (6)

Addie's word is iron-clad. Hope tells us that:

Addie never promised that life would be easy, but she did promise that if I hung with her the food would be good. (5)

And boy, is Addie's food ever good.

The diners rave over every new dish she introduces and G.T. tells her it's the best cooking Mulhoney's ever seen. But Addie's her own worse critic and being "the best" simply isn't good enough. When G.T. tastes her new veal stew, he describes it as perfect. Apparently, that's the wrong thing to say. Addie barks back,

"There's too much onion in this dish and I'm not going to serve it until I've got it right!" (98)

G.T. tells her she's too hard on herself, but she just says, "I'm hard on myself because that's the only way food is elevated" (98).

She's also tough on Braverman when it comes to food prep. As she's watching him cut up some raw poultry, she tells him,

"A chicken is a gift from God, but only when it is properly prepared. A badly prepared chicken is a gift to no one." (69)

She's not happy with the way he treats the meatloaf either, and declares, "You don't just shove it in a pan with tomato juice and oatmeal. You mold it with care" (70). Sounds like Addie's recipe for raising a really good kid.

Food = Love

Addie's well-aware of the emotional power of food and uses it as a means of expressing what's truly in her heart. She quietly endorses G.T.'s candidacy by baking extra goodies and sneaking them into campaign headquarters (G.T.'s office) for the volunteers to feast on. Later, during G.T.'s swearing-in ceremony, it begins to snow lightly just as Pastor Hall is finishing up a prayer. Hope tells us that Addie likened the touching moment to "[...] the thrill she got moving a raw plucked chicken into the oven and knowing that in a little while she'd have a soul-satisfying entree" (168). Nothing says love more than a raw plucked chicken.

Speaking of Love…

Addie's had much more success with her cooking than she's had with the men in her life. Her husband, Malcom, took off with another woman and her business partner at the Blue Box diner, Gleason Beal, took off with the money in their joint bank account.

Even she and G.T. don't hit it off right away. The kitchen at the Welcome Stairways just isn't big enough for the two strong personalities, especially as Addie attempts to stake her claim in the kitchen. According to Flo, it was like watching dogs mark off their territories, but eventually the pair learn how to work around each other and and enjoy each other's quirks.

The Key to Her Heart

Addie's a firm believer that "the way to anyone's heart is through their stomach" but she doesn't make it easy for G.T. when he tries the same tactic on her. When he suggests that they dine in a restaurant other than the Welcome Stairways, she demands to know if there's something wrong with her cooking. When he offers to pick her up at her apartment she says, "The parking lot or nothing" (147). Addie makes it clear that she'll go out with G.T. on her terms but once he walks away, she heads for the walk-in cooler to hide the flush in her face. She's not the sentimental type.

Addie doesn't say much to Hope, either, when her niece questions her about the date. "We had a decent time," is all Addie will share. The woman uses more flowery language to describe a slab of bacon, but in some subtle ways we know she likes him.

The two get married after a brief courtship and take a briefer honeymoon to Milwaukee. (Hey, don't knock Milwaukee.) They're treated to a celebration upon their return to the diner, but Addie makes this short as well. She's anxious to reveal the new veal recipe she came up while she was away.

Addie obviously loves Hope and G.T.; she just doesn't show it with public displays of affection or sappy sentiments. She keeps her feelings hidden beneath the surface, kind of like the filling in a chicken-pot-pie. You can't see it through the crust, but you know it's in there. And if it's Addie's, it's fabulous.

Addie helps Hope deal with the fact that G.T. probably won't be around forever.

"We're going to get as much as we can with the time we've been given. We're going to be grateful for whatever time that is." (174)

Addie will be there, no matter what.

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