Diane Hammond

"Going to Bend"

(reviewed by Kam Aures JUL 24, 2004)

Going to Bend by Diane Hammond

"Hubbard was one of the oldest no-account towns on the coast of Oregon. Men there fished commercially or helped others deep-sea fish for sport; they worked in the woods cutting timber, or they worked in the mill over in Sawyer, making paper amidst a great noise and stink. They lived hard, bore scars, coveted danger and died either young and violently or unnecessarily old. The women worked, or not. The children belonged to them.

Hubbard was one of those places where you could have your choice of oceanfront trailers - old rusting aqua and silver tuna fish cans with moisture problems. Hwy 101, the West's westernmost route from Canada to Mexico, was the town's only through street, a straight and single shot lined with gift shops and candy shops and kite shops and a Dairy Queen, shell art and postcards and forty-six flavors of saltwater taffy, homemade right here."

Rose Bundy and Petie Coolbaugh live in Hubbard and the women have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Struggling financially to help their families survive, they take cooking jobs at a newly opened restaurant called Souperior's Cafe. The owners of the cafe, Nadine and Gordon, are fraternal twins who moved up to Oregon from Los Angeles to escape the rigors of city life. They pay Rose and Petie to cook gallons of soup from scratch every morning using local recipes obtained during a cooking contest.

All of the characters in the book lead far from perfect lives. Petie is married to Eddie who has a reputation around town as a loser who cannot hold down a job. They have two children, Ryan and Loose. Ryan is a fragile, overly sensitive boy and Loose is a troublemaker. Petie's troubles in life did not begin with her marriage to Eddie, her father was the town drunk and he sexually abused her when she was young.

Rose lives with her daughter Carissa and has a strange seasonal relationship with a loner fisherman who only spends a few months out of the year in town. When he leaves Rose never knows if and when he is going to return.

Nadine and Gordon's life isn't as perfect as it seems either. Nadine basically runs the restaurant and Gordon is hardly ever seen there. Early on in the novel we find out that Gordon has AIDS and with lesions starting to appear on his skin he doesn't want to scare their few customers away.

Every character that we are introduced to in this book seems to have his or her own sad story. In a way it is kind of depressing that there isn't anyone in the town who is truly happy. However, the book does take a turn and show a lot of these people overcoming at least some of their obstacles and leading a better life.

The main storyline centers on Rose and Petie's extraordinary friendship. The relationship that these two have is what the definition of "best friends" should be. Both are very different individuals yet they have the closest bond; a bond that can never be broken no matter how hard times get.

There are secrets divulged throughout the book that make this story anything but predictable. Hammond's very descriptive writing style draws the reader in right away and hooks the reader until the end.
  • Amazon readers rating: from 3 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Going to Bend at RandomHouse.com

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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)


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About the Author:

Diane Hammond has worked as a writer and an editor. She was awarded a literary fellowship by the Oregon Arts Commission, and her writing has appeared in such magazines as Yankee, Mademoiselle, and Washington Review. She served as a spokesperson for the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Free Willy Keiko Foundation and currently lives with her husband, Nolan, and daughter, Kerry.

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