Review #32: Hope and Other Punchlines


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?

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I’m just going to say right now that I was entirely let down and a little bit disgusted by this book.

When I was offered a position on a blog tour for Hope & Other Punchlines, I was really excited. It was pitched as a comedy meeting tragedy with a bit of romance, along with other elements that stuck out to me. However, once diving into it, all the problems began to form.

For one, every chapter is short and choppy. Most of the sentences are repeating and/or contradict each other, and there’s barely enough information to take in. It was completely character driven, but the problem with that was that the characters were barely even developed a quarter of the way through.

Abbi is constantly talking about being Baby Hope. I get it, you hate being this pillar of hope and perseverance. Stop talking about it every other line and actually do something.

Noah, on the other hand, annoyed me from the first sentence of his POV. Not only is he obsessed with stalking and tracking down 9/11 victims, but he also blackmails Abbi into doing his bidding. And we were told this was supposed to be somewhat romantic? Bleh. Another thing was that he was focused on making a successful 9/11 joke. Excuse me, but since when was a terrorist attack funny? I get it, some people are able to joke about it and all, but as a reader who takes that day very seriously, I feel that was a little inconsiderate to our emotions and how that would come across.

I ended up DNFing this because of how craptastic it was going. I’m usually not this hard on books, but this one really fell way way way below the line. Honest to God, I never ever say this about anything I read, but I absolutely HATED this one. For that, I rate it 1 star. I wouldn’t suggest this book, obviously, but if something about my ranting review interested you in reading it, knock yourself out.

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julie-1Please check out my two novels, THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE and AFTER YOU, both now out in paperback. My first YA novel, TELL ME THREE THINGS, debuts April 2016.

Please check out my website for more information about my books.

Or to follow my recent shenanigans, please check out my blog, JULIE HAS WRITER’S BLOG, at

One of my favorite things about being a novelist is the opportunity to talk to reading groups. If you are part of a reading group and would like to set up a conference call, or maybe even a meeting in person, please check out the reading group form and the reading group guide on my website.

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