Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future. Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing. Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope. Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?
Two teens dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 find that different coping mechanisms can still lead to healing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Wow, two chapters into this book and I knew I would be hooked. It is what I think a good YA book is, it’s cute yet heavy, it’s hopeful yet real. The book is alternating chapters between our two main characters – Noah and Abbi. Abbi who has, for better or worse, become the face of the survivors of 9/11. Noah who is determined to joke his way through tragedy. Both characters were both relatable and likable. I cruised through this book but also wanted to savor it. I think you will too!
Ready for me to call out some specific moments in this book that I fell in love with? How about on page 181 where Noah references Julie Buxbaum’s previous book Tell Me Three Things?! I love love love little easter eggs from an authors previous books. Sarah Dessen is a master at doing this and it will never get old!
I tried to think of the quote in this book that I think captured the entire sentiment of it. Here’s something that Noah says that I feel like really sums up Love and Other Punch Lines:
“But you can be serious and funny at the same time. We need the serious to recognize the funny, and the funny to give us even a shot in hell at surviving the serious. It’s a really simple theory if your think about it. They’re mutually dependent, not mutually exclusive.”
This book focuses a lot on 9/11, and as I was reading it was so curious what was made up, and what was real. It was almost like reading a historical fiction book and you think you’re learning a lot and then you think… well is this even real? Well at the end of this book the author reveals what was true and what was not true. Much of what I was genuinely intrigued about and had never heard of, was indeed true. This really solidified the 5 star ranking for me. I love that I learned something from this book, and that teens who maybe weren’t old enough to comprehend 9/11 will read this book and get a bigger understanding of a moment in time that turned everything else into after.
Do: name your car
Eat: gummy bears
Drink: a slushy