Names: All You Can Do is Hope to Get it Right

I just finished reading Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer (recommended for ages 10 and up). Unknown-1

It was a beautiful read and I loved how the theme of hope ran throughout the novel. I don’t want to discuss the plot in too much detail because it is definitely a book worth reading but it is the story of an incredible girl with a rough start in life and her hope to one day find her estranged father. She lives an extremely transitory life, moving around the country with her aunt in a constant struggle to make ends meet. As she leaves a place, she scrawls ‘Hope Was Here’ before she goes. The reader learns that the protagonist recently changed her name from Tulip (most unfortunate) to Hope which had me thinking about the incredible power of names. It is not an easy task to name a child, a protagonist or yourself. As she says:

”And when we came to Hope, I knew I’d found it. I think hope is just about the best thing a person can have. Addie said I had to think doubly hard about a name like Hope because it’s a lot to live up to. People expect things from Hopes that they don’t expect from Pattys or Lisas and Danielles.”

When it comes to my own name, Erica, I can’t help but reflect on what effect this has had on me. Scrawling Erica Was Here doesn’t quite have the same impact as Hope Was Here. My middle name incidentally is Faith, which I gravitated between hating (because it was a word and not a name and quite difficult to say and spell and explain for a seven year old) and loving it because who can’t use a little extra bit of faith.

As for Erica, when I was a teen and would fight with my mother, she would often yell, “Why do you have to be so overly dramatic?”

While the answer “because I am a teenager” should have been enough, I had a far better answer.

“Maybe you should have thought about that before you named me for a soap opera star,” I responded countless times.

Yes, it is an unfortunate truth that although I abhor soap operas, I was in fact named for Erica Kane, a character from All My Children.

We did also have The Erica Phone in my home, in bright red. No, this was not my phone. The phone was really called The Erica Phone (my father bought it in Denmark). We kept ours in our family room because the red complimented the zebra skin stretched across the wall (yes, the skin from an actual zebra) and the black and white shag carpet that I am pretty certain ate most of the things we lost throughout the 70s and 80s.

oc_mandarin                                                                                                      http://www.ericofon.com/colors.htm

While our Erica Phone is long gone (and thankfully the zebra and the shag too), my parents have planted Erica flowers around their home.

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Don’t lose hope though. I have found The Erica Phone online. I must caution you and point out an obvious design flaw. After dialing on the rotary dial, which moved slower than most and was also considerably louder than most (and neither held true for me), if you put the phone down for a moment you would inadvertently hang up. In the days long before automatic redial and digitally stored numbers, this was an endless source of frustration.

Skip the phone. Do buy the book though because, “when hope gets released in a place, all kinds of things are possible.” (Joan Bauer, Hope Was Here)

Article written by Erica Lyons