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The head assistant cook at the diner is a young guy by the name of Braverman. He and Hope have a lot in common. They've both experienced some rough patches in life, but have faced them with strength, selflessness, and…(drum roll, please) bravery. He starts out as a 6.7 on Jocelyn's male cuteness scale, but as Hope gets to know him, his score keeps inching up. By page 53, he's a 7.4.
When his dad walked out on the family, Braverman put his thoughts of college aside and stayed around to support his mother. She'd just had an operation and was left with huge medical bills to pay and twin daughters to care for. Braverman doesn't complain. In fact, he's not the most expressive guy in the world. He doesn't say much—just stays calm and flips a mean burger.
When G.T. was too wiped out from the chemo treatments, Braverman stepped up to the grill and ran the Welcome Stairs single-handedly. He tells Hope that he managed to assure G.T. that "everything was under control" even though it sure wasn't, and considered it all part of the job.
Braverman loosens up when he starts getting involved in G.T.'s mayoral campaign. He's a believer. He's lived long enough in Mulhoney to know that change is needed, and he's fearless in going after Millstone. Braverman gives everything he's got to G.T.'s campaign. It's personal:
"Tell them G.T. Stoop has the courage to face anything in this world and come out ahead, and that's what this town needs."
I could tell by his face that he meant what he said. "I guess you know him pretty well."
"When my mom was out of work, G.T. gave me a job waiting tables, then he taught me to cook." (45)
When the residents of Mulhoney initially refuse to sign the petition that will get G.T. on the ballot, Braverman wins them over by reciting G.T.'s resume from heart. Later, when Millstone resorts to spreading lies about G.T., Braverman attempts to make the truth known by writing articles for the local paper. His devotion to G.T. is so apparent in these "articles" that even Cecelia Culpepper won't publish them; they're a bit too biased to be considered news. She advises Braverman to stick to the facts only but he equates being neutral in the election to being brain-dead. Braverman is anything but brain-dead.
Braverman refuses to be silenced even when he's physically attacked by Millstone's hired hands. This time, the article he writes about the incident gets printed on the front page of the newspaper and inspires dozens of young people to volunteer for G.T.'s campaign.
Oh sure, you broke three of my ribs. I have stitches in my forehead and won't be able to work for a while. But you've only made me more determined to speak out and find the truth about the corruption that has a hold of this town. (121)
He's got a tenacious spirit that can't be broken (unlike his ribs).
No Y.A. novel would be complete without a romance, and Hope and Braverman supply it. As they get to know each other at the restaurant and on the campaign trail, Hope comes to admire his goodness and tenacity. She sees a lot of herself in him. Finally, he blurts out a dinner invitation. Hope, not used to dating, brushes him off, and Braverman retreats big-time. Hope realizes what she's done, apologizes, and Braverman suddenly becomes a dashing romantic. He cooks and serves her a meal right there in the restaurant, complete with flowers and candles on the table.
I might as well have been in a prom dress, I felt so special.
We talked and laughed until midnight right there in the Welcome Stairways. And when dinner was over he said, "Hope, would it be okay if I kissed you?" (152)
Braverman also helps Hope cope with G.T.'s final illness:
Braverman seemed ever-present—a huge tree himself; someone to hold on to. He was broken at the prospect of losing G.T. (178)
And he's there to grieve with her when G.T. dies. At the end of the book, they're both heading off to college. This is a separation Hope knows she can handle, because she knows it won't be permanent.