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Heart, You Bully, You Punk

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  190 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A high school girl, her father, and her math teacher. In Heart, You Bully, You Punk, Leah Hager Cohen uses this unlikely triangle to chart the complexities of the human heart.

Esker (she prefers to go solely by her last name) is a thirty-one-year-old high school teacher at the Prospect School in Brooklyn who, after various heartbreaks and disappointments, has found a quie
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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 12th 2003 by Viking Adult (first published 2003)
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Leila
Jun 27, 2008 Leila rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women with hollow bones
Heart, You Bully, You Punk is the kind of book you want to read when you are feeling melancholy--it's the print equivalent of Coldplay and a cup of lukewarm tea. It's the kind of book that makes you feel like starving yourself for days and then climbing into the largest, rattiest sweater you can find, and rocking gently in a corner. This isn't to say that I didn't like the book, I did. I mean, I gave it three stars. But it will slowly drive you mad, as you start to look at every gesture you make ...more
M
IN addition to the freakish title, which made this an embarrassing work to tote around (I red real books! I promise!), this book was a much weaker attempt than the other Hager Cohen I read - House Lights I think it was called. The writing was very heavy and the overall plot fell short of interesting.
Essentially, a girl named Anna falls from the bleachers (it seems she has a tendency to try to fly - but this is for the most part unexplored though presumably playing a big role in the story)and now
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Jane
The susceptible adolescent is always present in the adult. One of our heroines, Esker, learns as much when she starts tutoring Ann, a precocious math student with whom Esker empathizes beyond the bounds of her strict professionalism. The woman and the girl are both gifted in mathematics and burdened with emotions prone to grand expression and its countervailing repression. Ann’s crush on a beautiful classmate and Esker’s quiet fixation on a man she lost a decade before mirror one another.
Ann’s
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Liddy Barlow
I was familiar with Cohen's nonfiction (especially her great book on deaf culture, Train Go Sorry), so I've long been meaning to try out this novel of hers. It's not bad -- chockablock with vivid details, so the imagining is easy and the characterization superb -- but I wasn't wild about it.
Rachel
I picked up this book simply because I liked the title and walked away with a read that was overwhelmingly lovely and sad and rich with emotional nuance and all those literary nooks and crannies that can make a book so satisfying.

So why only three stars then? The ending. While I'm a big fan and supporter of unresolved and even unhappy endings this book's close made me feel as though I'd been cheated. Unresolved and unhappy endings work because they feel realistic--true to a character's form. Her
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Emily
This was a really enjoyable read, but much more than the sense that I'd want to read it on the beach. Despite (or because of?) it's high "enjoyability-factor," it was a very substantial novel. After reading it, I want to use the term "heavy" to describe it, but I mean that because one of the themes of the novel was the heaviness or lightness or a person, or how a person carries their happiness and sadness.

For example, Wally, the father of a confused 16-year daugher and the husband of an absent
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Lauren Goldfish
Aug 04, 2012 Lauren Goldfish rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lauren by: Russ Monroe
I really enjoyed this book. It's not a five star "can't put down the book, seamless plot, fully developed character and setting shebang, Time Traveler's Wife meets The Bible" but it is a great story. It's not just a great story, but Cohen has a very unique and detailed way of describing *everything* - a real gift for depicting social and emotional reality in a way I've never seen done before.

I might be biased. The book is about a young student with issues, and a single Math teacher with issues,
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Julie Ehlers
Funny and entertaining and painful. I loved the characters, so like real humans with all their vulnerabilities and odd thoughts and surprising desires. I would have liked to have written this novel, although I would have given it a different ending.
Sara Diane
May 03, 2013 Sara Diane rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sara Diane by: Sarah L Pottenger
Shelves: 2013, reviewed
I wanted so much to love this book. I was loving this book, and then, boom. Everything just fizzled. I was left with a very dissatisfied feeling at the end, one that told me that I had just wasted several hours investing in lives that didn't care enough to change.

What I found was a set of characters who come to the brink, see what change would look like, get a taste of it, and then decide, for whatever reason, that being static is more their thing. Maybe that does happen every day in real life,
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Erin Sterling
A beautifully written book about a school teacher in her late 20s/early 30s living in New York who volunteers to be a student's tutor and ends up falling for her father. That makes it sound like this is a love story, and it partly is, but it's more a book about growing up and thinking about choices you've made in your life and regrets and being content. I think there should be a word to describe this type of book, but I'm not sure what it is--reading it, I felt melancholy and the end drove me cr ...more
Kathleen
Esker, a math teacher at a private school in Manhattan, begins tutoring a teenage student (Ann) who is homebound after an falling accident. Ann's father (Wally) and Esker become friends. This gets leaked to the headmistress at the school, and there is trouble. Wally runs a restaurant given to him by his wife's inheritance. Meanwhile Wally's wife has made her life in Los Angeles, where she has broken into acting. The pacing of the story was good, the characters believable. Lots of teenage angst, ...more
heidi
I give it a 3-star rating (initially wanted to give it a 3.5 but goodreads don't do stars by half) because I like the mathematical stuff in this book. I don't care much about the characters except for Esker, though. There's not enough development for the budding romance between Esker and Wally. It has been interesting being inside Esker's mind because sometimes I felt as if the author was describing me. But frankly the plot is nothing much.
Chrissy
Apr 05, 2011 Chrissy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: creative-writing type of readers
Shelves: bookclub
I liked the writing more than the big picture story. There were many beautiful moments of text in this book. The characters were a little ethereal, but that's also what added the touch of magic to this book. Without it, the plot would have lost my interest. The ending is definitely not on my happily-ever-after list - there's no tragedy, either (I guess that's up for argument) - but that's just my optimistic preference for endings.
Phoebe
Review I wrote back in 2006 (edited):

This one takes after the poem. (I prefer the poem to the book.) There was only one character I liked/identified with/enjoyed reading about in the whole book (the rest were either confusing or too ethereal for me to get a handle on). The plot was 60% non (as in not-a-plot) and the language . . .precious. A reviewer on Amazon called the book "suffocating."
Kat Jenkins
Beautiful language, beautifully written...somewhat troubled by the conclusion (or lack thereof).
K
Hmm. I liked the writing, sort of, but sometimes it felt overwritten and pretentious. A bit slow and weird. Reading it wasn't painful, but I didn't love it either -- I guess that makes it a perfect 3-star book. It'll be interesting to see what the other book club members have to say.
Danna
A good read that I wanted to fall in love with, and almost did. I purchased the hardback first edition (different cover, dust jacket). Yet another $1 clearance buy at Half Price Books. It pays to take the time to browse.
Carol
I enjoyed this book as it dealt with relationships, loneliness and being a spectator in life. These are all themes that I can relate to. The characters are quirky but engaging. Good light read.
Steve Are
Incredible writing, thoroughly enjoyable, but without wishing to spoil the experience of anyone wishing to read this book, i'll just hint there's a unforgivable flaw to it.
Michelle Broderick
I liked the non-linear narrative. It gave the novel a gossipy/voyeuristic edge that made me happy the same way a particularly good cross-word puzzle makes me happy.
Jenny
This book was so beautifully written. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the end, but I can't blame it on Leah Hager Cohen.
Katie
found a copy of this in a pile at the salvation army and remembered i read it a few years back. wasn't nearly as good as the title seemed to suggest.
Bernadine
very touching story of a woman who was resolved to being alone..and then finds herself falling in love w/ the dad of a student she tutors
Barbara
Despite the unappealing title, this is an extremely well written book about two lonely people who find each other. I highly recommend it.
Philip
a different kind of read for me.

chick-flicky in nature, but interestingly written, with full characters and a very realistic lens.
Connie Hess
Don't be dissuaded by an odd title.
Excellently written with interwoven experiences of parents, children, spouses and friends.
Johanna
Kinda light (but smart) romantic read. Ending was a disappointment, I felt gypped after having invested in the story.
Janine
Beautifully written, very intriguing story but I thought it fell completely flat on it's face at the end.
Camille
A stunningly accomplished novel. Thoroughly engrossing and beautiful in its honesty and realism.
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Leah Hager Cohen has written four non-fiction books, including Train Go Sorry and Glass, Paper, Beans, and four novels, including House Lights and The Grief of Others.

She serves as the Jenks Chair in Contemporary American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Tim
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More about Leah Hager Cohen...
The Grief of Others Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World No Book but the World I Don't Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance (Except When You Shouldn't) House Lights

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“Every sad thing, every loss or hurt really a challenge to love that much more, really just another of beauty's many strongholds.” 17 likes
“Increasing pressure on students to subject themselves to ever more tests, whittling themselves down to rows and rows of tight black integers upon a transcript, all ready to goose-step straight into a computer.” 9 likes
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