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. It is the story of a 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 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, 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 and loving it.

As for Erica, when I was a teen and would fight with my mother, she would often yell, “You are so overly dramatic?”

“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.

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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)