Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum
Overview: Baby Hope became an iconic image in the wake of 9/11. The baby in that photo is actually named Abbi Hope Goldstein, and it was her first birthday that day. She's been profiled in People magazine every year since. People randomly hug her in the grocery store. When she finds herself mysteriously coughing up blood, she decides to sign up for a summer as a camp councilor in a neighboring town. She's hopeful she can have a summer of fun, free of being "Baby Hope" before she has to confront what she fears are the signs of a serious health problem. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 Abbi is at a weird cross roads in her life. Everything is changing. Over the course of the school year, her former best friend moved on, she's worried about the blood she's coughing up, but she doesn't want to bother her mom, who's dealing with her grandmother moving in. Abbi deals with the struggle between seeming completely ordinary and extraordinary depending on who is watching her.
Noah wants to be a comedian. He lost his dad on 9/11, but none of his remains were ever recovered. The Baby Hope photo has always kept him dreaming that his dad really is out there somewhere. The unidentified man in the background looks just like the snippets of his dad he's seen. Noah drags Abbi on a mission to piece together that day and find out the man's identity.
Plot: 4 I found most of the story quite compelling. Some of the plot threads seem a little unnecessary, but, on the whole, I thought the goal was well executed. It digs into the reality of this new generation that I'm a part of. We don't remember 9/11. Many of us hadn't even been born at the time. By telling the story through a community full of the kids who have come of age in its wake is quite compelling and allows people who don't have memories of the tragedy to connect with it on more than a surface level.
Writing: 4 I thought the pacing, for the most part, was spot on. The quick, alternating chapters were quite strong. It created an interesting dynamic to have one character who is really at the center of the narrative but only feels a distant connection and a character who isn't even exactly sure what the narrative around the day was for his family but makes it an intrinsic part of his identity. Their separate journeys intermingle beautifully.
Other Books by This Author...
Tell Me Three Things: Review Here
Links of Interest:
Unpregnant: Review Here
9 Days and 9 Nights: Review Here
The Need For Younger YA: Here
Summer Bird Blue: Review Here