Hope and Other Punchlines

Delacorte. May 2019. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781524766771.
Gr 7 Up–In this contemporary realistic novel, high school protagonists grapple with the long-term impact of 9/11 on their respective lives. Abbi “Hope” Goldstein was in a famous photo taken on 9/11 of a group of survivors escaping the collapse of the Twin Towers. Abbi is pictured wearing a birthday crown and holding a red balloon, being carried to safety by her childcare teacher. She becomes a symbol of hope, a burden that she has held since that day. Noah is desperate to learn the truth about his father and to tell the perfect 9/11 joke. Abbi and Noah grew up in the same town, attend the same high school, but their paths only cross at a nearby day camp where they are both working over the summer. Snappy dialogue, humor, and realistic relationships will satisfy readers. Buxbaum skillfully interweaves light moments with heavy moments. The budding romance between the teens leads to the exploration of topics such as identity, survivor guilt, health issues, sense of abandonment, and loss.
VERDICT Fans of Buxbaum’s earlier works will enjoy her latest offering. A recommended purchase for most teen collections.

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