By the time I was fourteen I'd been to six different schools and lived in five states, because although Addie was a great cook, the restaurants she worked for kept going belly-up. I know firsthand about change and adaptability. (7)
It's one thing to know about change and adaptability, but it's another thing to handle them time and time again without falling to pieces or turning into a complete jerk. Hope is the master of plasticity and always seems to come out ahead. You have to wonder if it's just a coincidence that Addie keeps working for failing restaurants. Some people are too restless to stay in one place. Is this Addie? Is she setting herself up for this kind of constant change?
When you move a lot, you have a few things you bring with you that have stood the test of time: I've got my Webster's dictionary, because words are important. […] I've got my eleven scrapbooks of most of the places I've lived, complete with photographs of all my significant comments about people, places, and food. […] Addie says it's easy to go to a new pace and feel like you don't have a history, so you have to lug your history around you or it's too easy to forget. (8)
Addie gives Hope an important tool to cope with change. No matter where you are, you're still you, and you need things to remind you of that. Hope's able to find some consistency inside herself during all the changes in her life. Her "stuff" helps with that.
"New places always help us look at life differently. I will miss you, but won't lose you." (10)
When Hope leaves Brooklyn, her good friend Harrison gives her a "good-bye" present with a note bearing this message. Once again, Hope's encouraged to see the things that won't change, like her friends' love. Harrison's words seem to foreshadow the way Hope feels when she's forced to say good-bye to G.T.
Here I was—my body heading to one place, my heart stuck in another. My mind's got questions and no answers.
What kind of kids live in Mulhoney, Wisconsin?
Would they like me?
Would I like them? (11)
These are probably the most common worries for kids moving to new places. Sometimes it seems like Bauer wrote this book for kids who have to go through this.
My mother always said that the stairways symbolized how we must greet whatever changes and difficulties life may bring with firm faith in God [...]. (13)
G.T. included this statement on the back of the menu of his diner. G.T.'s mother must have known that her message would somehow reach her future granddaughter one day.
"Hope, how are you handling all this change coming up here?"
"I'm pretty adaptable." I always say that.
[…] "I remember my family moving in the middle of my junior year in high school. I wanted to kill my old man for doing that to me." (25)
"Adaptable" might be Hope's standard line, but it's definitely true. Right off the bat, G.T. gets it; sharing his own experience is a pretty empathic thing to do.
"And I want to bring as much healthy change into this town as I can before I go." (38)
G.T. has absolutely no idea how much positive change he's going to bring to Hope, Addie, and entire population of Mulhoney before and after he goes.
"I know, Dad, that you've been all over the world and you've managed to make those transitions easily because you're the kind of person who doesn't let change throw you, but I'm having some problems doing that here." (59)
Most kids turn to their parents for help in coping with changes. Hope's still trying to do that, even with an absent dad. Any answers she might get are really going to come from within herself.
"We get a roomful of committed people like this behind us," G.T. whispered to me, "we could change the world." (114)
G.T. has incredible faith in the power of the people to effect change. He does change the world—at least for Hope, Addie, Braverman, and most of the people in Mulhoney.
So much had changed here. So much was the same. (184)
Hope's experienced a lot of change over the past two years, but much of it, if not all of it, has been for the better. The paradox is that the biggest change is that Hope will finally have a home that won't change.