Study Guide

Hope Was Here Family

By Joan Bauer

Family

But my mom, Deena, left me with two things. One I kept—her gift of waitressing; the other I threw away—the name she gave me at birth, which, I swear, was Tulip. (6)

Why does Hope use the words "threw away" rather than "changed" when referring to her birth name?

Harrison commenting that motherhood should be like driving a car—you should have to pass a test before you get to do it legally. (10)

Hope's mother Deena didn't even bother to apply for a learner's permit. She seemed content to leave the driving to Addie.

Addie said even though my mother hardly came around, she was still an important part of my life, and it was up to me to save and remember the things she passed on. (42)

Would Hope have been better off ignoring Addie's advice? Were the waitressing tips Deena passed on really worth the trouble of having to watch her dash in and out of Hope's life?

We don't go back in this family, we just keep moving forward. (89)

After moving so frequently, there comes a time when "I'll be back to visit one day" is nothing more than an empty promise. Hope's not one to make empty promises, which makes it so difficult for her to write back to her two closest friends in Brooklyn who clearly miss her. We think this message might be a dig at Deena as well.

"My mother is coming to visit me."

"Is that good or bad?"

"Bad…some of each, maybe. I don't know." (135)

Hope's mixed feelings about her mother's impending visit seem to reflect her mixed feelings about Deena in general, which seem to reflect the mixed signals Deena sends her when she visits.

"But you're as real and true a father as a human being will get in this world." (171)

Take it from a young woman who spent her formative years collecting magazine pictures of possible "Dads" with whom she had imaginary heart-to-heart conversations. G.T. is the real thing.

"We didn't start from the same tree, but we're going to grow together like we did." (173)

G.T. ties together two small branches from different trees and puts them under a special light to help them grow together into one. The simple yet symbolic gesture seals the whole father deal for Hope once and for all.

A father isn't just woven from strands of DNA. A true father is dedicated and unshakably there for his kid every single day. (175)

The dictionary definition of the word "father" has come to mean something for Hope other than "A man who has begotten a child" now that she's gotten G.T. for a father.

Addie had given me the painting [...] that G.T.'s mother, my grandmother, had painted. My grandmother. I loved saying that. (183)

Just knowing that she's now part of a family tree—one with firmly established roots—is enough to bring joy to this kid who's never really known it before.

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