Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Hope and Other Punchlines

Rate this book
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?

304 pages, Paperback

First published May 7, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Julie Buxbaum

12 books2,998 followers
Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, What to Say Next, Hope and Other Punchlines, and Admission (pubs 5/5/20). She’s also the author of two critically acclaimed novels for adults: The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children, and more books than is reasonable. Visit Julie online at www.juliebuxbaum.com and follow @juliebux on Twitter.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,769 (26%)
4 stars
2,995 (44%)
3 stars
1,559 (23%)
2 stars
282 (4%)
1 star
89 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 985 reviews
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 12 books2,998 followers
November 15, 2018
Is it tacky to review your own novel? Probably! But alas I wrote this book, and it's the one that almost killed me, and took a whole year longer than it was supposed to, and I'm super ridiculously proud of it, so I'm giving myself FIVE STARS. I truly hope you like it too.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,132 reviews39.3k followers
July 31, 2020
3.5 sad, gloomy, tear jerker but at the end hopeful, bright, surviving stars as like how the life goes rounded up 4 stars!

To find yourself completely you need to learn losing yourself at first!

Baby Hope was in danger, lonely at her birthday, September 11, 2001 ! She was saved from her daycare and as she was wearing a crown on her hat, holding a red balloon, captured by a photographer with a bunch of strangers are standing behind her! At the background South Tower of World Trade Center was collapsing!

Survival tragedy changed Abby Hope’s life, turned her into an icon, a symbol of staying alive, a commercial figure, a reluctant celebrity that she forces herself to stay away from the media circus by hiding her identity!

After that tragic day, her life might have been saved but her happiness has been truly removed from her life. Her parents were divorced!
She became loner, introvert, socially awkward person, lately loses her best friend to the wannabe It girls! As long as she wants to separate herself with Baby hope image stick with her personal life, she hardly gets rid of her past.

Now she is lost without friends, without future dreams, no desire for college, having relationship with boys!

The worst part is she thinks she has a deadly disease but she keeps it secret from her parents not to worry about them. ( her mother is already agitated enough because of her grandmother’s dementia )

Now she became a volunteer to work in summer camp! She meets with Noah who has a crazy project about what happened to those people stood behind baby Hope at the epic photo! He easily recognizes Abby and not to declare she is the famous baby Hope to the other camp crew, he blackmails her to help him out on his project.

At first Hope rejects him but as soon as they start to talk with people on the photo, she finds a different purpose in her life and realizes she is not alone. All those people are her secret family who shared an emotional past with her.
As long as she goes to make interviews with Noah, they became closer.

Noah dreams to be a comedian and writing a first 9/11 joke on his stand up show! He is shy, awkward, clumsy, weird kind of sense of humor and he’s also sweet, kind, the problem about him he hardly show his vulnerable side. His bromance with Jack was hilarious! They reminded me of Sex Education series’ Otis and Eric so much!

I enjoyed the parts of misunderstandings between Abby and Noah’s relationship. They like each other but not brave and confident enough to show their feelings and they put themselves so many awkward positions.

Chemistry part between them is a little missing. As a couple they reminded of wrong casted actors to play in a romantic movie.

But as a summary, last parts, Abby’s finding herself and embracing her life, her flaws, her past and near future, family, Noah, Jack, new friends from camp are satisfying and heartwarming!

The writer took a big risk to write about the most depressing, heart wrenching, shattering tragedy but she did a great job by turning this tragedy to a hopeful, smiling, joyful journey of life! As a summary, it is a great try and mission is fully accomplished!!!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
June 10, 2019
"I know better than anyone that you can't always draw a straight line from the who you once were to the who you are now."

Abbi Hope Goldstein celebrated her first birthday on September 11, 2001. While that doesn't make her completely unique, one fact does: on that fateful day, a photographer captured her, wearing a birthday crown and holding a red balloon, while the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed behind her.

That photo, entitled "Baby Hope," became an iconic symbol of that day. It truly gave people hope, and as Abbi grew older, she continued to be the subject of intense media curiosity. Strangers would stop her on the street and hug her, crying, sharing their memories of 9/11. It's hard to be infamous for something you didn't have any control over, and living in the New Jersey town that experienced the greatest number of casualties outside of NYC that day, she can never seem to escape the legacy of "Baby Hope."

But this summer, just before she turns 17 and starts her senior year of high school, she's determined to do something for herself. She signs up to be a counselor at a day camp two towns away, where no one will know her as anyone but Abbi. It's the perfect plan before she has to confront some issues she's dreading.

It turns out that Noah Stern, who is one year behind her in school, has decided to be a counselor at the same camp. Not only does he know that she is Baby Hope, he believes it was his destiny to meet her. His life changed, too, on 9/11, and he convinces/blackmails Abbi into helping track down the other people who were in her iconic photo. But neither of them is being completely honest about the impact of that day on their lives.

As they work to carry out Noah's plan, their relationship begins to deepen, but the secrets that both are hiding could be a barrier too great to overcome. Hope and Other Punchlines is a powerful, poignant story about trying to move away from the shadow of your past, and finding the strength to make a fresh start. But at the same time, the book shows us that everything that occurs in our life makes us the person we are, even if we'd rather not acknowledge those things and their effect on us.

"Something happens when the story you tell yourself turns out not to be your story at all. You have to figure out what to replace it with. Something needs to grow in the space left behind."

I found this book absolutely beautiful—it's emotional but it's funny, too. Even when I thought there really wasn't another angle by which to approach 9/11, Julie Buxbaum found a gorgeous story which sprung from those left behind. The burden that these kids carried on their shoulders, for different reasons, really moved me, and I was completely invested in this story from start to finish. In fact, I read the entire book in just a few hours.

I had never read any of Buxbaum's books before although I've always meant to, since I'm such a YA fan. Now for sure I'll definitely be picking her earlier books up. But I can't recommend Hope and Other Punchlines enough. It's a story of family, friendship, love, loss, guilt, grief, and, of course, hope.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,758 reviews32k followers
September 12, 2019
4.25 stars

 photo DA9CE387-454C-4FF1-A9A9-3EB7E4349D84_zpskjlxxduo.png
I’m so, so tired of always worrying about our world splitting into a before and an after again.

Julie Buxbaum delivered once again. Hope and Other Punch Lines was a book that made me laugh, made me cry, and hit me right in the feels. I love this authors writing and her characters. 

Abbi Hope Goldstein is best known as 'Baby Hope'. On September 11th, 2001, a lot of lives were forever altered. There is a divide. A before and an after. Before, Abbi was a happy baby in NYC. On the day of 9/11 she was photographed in a childcare workers arms holding a red balloon while the towers collapse behind her. She is a symbol of hope to a lot of people adn is recognized to this day, though she wishes she wasn't. All Abbi really wants is anonymity. This summer, especially. 

Abbi takes a job in the next town over working at a kid's summer camp and ends up working with a boy she vaguely knows named Noah. Noah Stern's life was also changed on 9/11. He was also a baby and his whole life was shaped by that day. When he meets Abbi it's meant to be. He's on a mission and needs her help. Unwillingly, she tags along for the ride. 

What I loved most about this book was finding out Noah's story and watching his and Abbi's friendship blossom. At first, I wasn't sure about Noah and I can almost say I didn't like him, but he grew on me. And his best friend Jack- my favorite character in the story! He was the best. I loved that this story went in a direction I didn't see it going. It was interesting, unpredictable, and well written. There were so many beautiful moments and I enjoyed reading this so much! 
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 6 books52.1k followers
May 12, 2020
After Tell Me Three Things, Julie Buxbaum became one of my must-read authors.

To millions of Americans, Abbi Hope Goldstein is known as simply “Baby Hope”—the subject of an iconic 9/11 photograph that shows her being carried to safety while Tower 1 collapses in the background. Abbi is 17 now, and her face remains instantly recognizable. For her own painful reasons, Abbi wants to enjoy one final carefree summer while she can, as an anonymous camp counselor, not as a 9/11 icon. But then she meets Noah, a teen with his own devastating 9/11 history, who knows exactly who she is, and wants her help finding answers that have long eluded him about that tragic day.

Her subject matter may be heavy, but Buxbaum’s light touch makes this both emotionally resonant and surprisingly funny.

A great story, well told, for teen and adult
Profile Image for demi. ♡.
206 reviews277 followers
August 3, 2019
I have a good time reading this book but I think first half of the story is a bit boring. By the way, I love the way Julie Buxbaum puts ‘tell me three things’ game in this book. It reminds me of her “Tell me three things” book very much!
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books329 followers
October 27, 2022
Wow, what a great book! As one could expect from any book trying to tackle the events of 9/11, this was a *tough read* in places. I don’t think it’s possible to relive those details without feeling reminded/triggered about everything that happened that day and in the days that followed, and Julie Buxbaum’s exquisite way with words make that experience even more visceral. Abbi was photographed as a baby being rescued from the towers. She’s lived her entire life as a symbol of hope to others, with parents whose lives have been catastrophically altered by what happened. Without getting into spoilers, Noah’s life was also altered by 9/11, in a different way. Loved all the different angles this examined. Lovely and heartbreaking.

Trigger Warnings:

Profile Image for ♛ may.
805 reviews3,775 followers
June 28, 2019
book #5 for summerathon, under the challenge of: "sunrise colors on the cover"

this aint it chief 😞
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,014 reviews1,051 followers
June 29, 2020
4.5 stars

Ms. Julie Buxbaum has become one of my most favorite and trusted YA authors and I'll probably read every book she writes. Her stories are always relevant and her writing is always a blend of charming, witty, heart-wrenching, and adorkable.

Hope and Other Punch Lines is a YA contemporary about the aftermaths of 9/11 to the survivors and to the relatives of the victims of the tragic event and I really am grateful to have come across this novel because it's a wonderful tribute to those who suffered during that time, personal legacies of loss as the author termed it in her note.

What makes this a unique story is that it is alternately told sixteen years after the tragedy by teenagers, Abbi or Baby Hope (one of the survivors of the tragedy) and Noah (son of one of the victims) as they live a life with the aftereffects of 9/11 always hovering above their heads.

This is such an insightful, funny (there's even that Tell Me Three Things reference. I totally saw that), thought provoking, and inspiring story that at times made me sniff and choke back lumps in my throat. This is a beautiful reminder why I love YA.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,155 reviews642 followers
February 4, 2019

There are events in my life I’ll never forget... where I was, who I was with, what I felt. September 11, 2001 is one of those moments that has stayed with me... forever.

This novel takes me back to that time and adds a whole new layer to the story. Every character played an important role in this novel. Their stories mean everything to me.

This book will require some recovery on my part and will likely land on my top 5 this year. I’m sure.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,360 reviews202 followers
February 20, 2019

“We need the serious to recognize the funny, and the funny to give us even a shot in hell at surviving the serious.”

September 11, 2001 changed lives. Holes were created in communities, families, and hearts. But love, courage, and compassion can be found in times of great loss and pain too. The little moments—a helping hand up, a hug, a kind word, or even a laugh to break the tension--make a difference. Abbi and Noah reminded me that laughter can be found in and after our worst moments.

Abbi Hope Goldstein is Baby Hope. A photograph captured her, on her first birthday, being carried out and away from the 9/11 devastation. The image, of little Abbi holding tight to her birthday balloon, gave hope to so many during a time of pain and fear. Now 15 years later, Abbi is still trying to find a way to live her life as “Abbi” not Baby Hope. She is much more than an iconic image. She’s grown up and changed, but no one seems to see or hear that. But this is Abbi’s summer. She wants one summer to herself to be herself without Baby Hope. So she heads off to summer camp, where she can blend in and start fresh. No one will know her as Baby Hope. But of course, who does she find at camp? Someone who recognizes her…

Noah. I just want to say right here and now that this boy’s story made my heart hurt. *deep sigh* Noah Stern’s life also changed under that clear-as-can-be-blue-blue Tuesday morning sky in September 2001. And now he wants answers. With a little blackmail and lots of gummy bears, Noah sets off to find the truth and hopefully more (trying not to spoil!). But he needs a little help from Baby Hope.

This quick moving story pulled me in at word one. The short chapters move you along to new friends, old friends, survivors, and memories. And that’s the word that keeps popping up here for me—memory or memories. Some people will never forget what happened on 9/11. Some can’t bear to think of it. And others, like Abbi, have no memory of 9/11, but it’s still a huge part of their lives. The memory of that day echoes in so many different lives in so many different ways. But memory is a tricky thing. Sometimes we hold on tight to a story or belief—whether it’s true or not---because it’s all we have of someone or something. Strength, memory, before & after, and the pieces of our lives after a loss all run through the heart of this book. Memories of who we were and memories of the ones we lost. We do what we have to do to survive the hole in our lives after a tragedy, but stories and memories change along with our hearts. We grow and hopefully heal.

“My heart has unclenched itself from a fist to an open hand. But something happens when the story you tell yourself turns out not to be your story at all. You have to figure out what to replace it with. Something needs to grow in the space left behind.”

This powerful little book packs a wallop. There is a lot going on with identity and grief and surviving. For me, the best friend storyline made an already full book too full. Cat’s story needed more time. But alongside all that seriousness….there are a lot of laughs and smiles here too. Abbi, Noah, and Jack form a hysterical trio. Noah and Jack’s friendship and banter are pitch-perfect and punny. But…*shakes head laughing*…I never thought Phil would end up being my favorite comedian. :D

Hope you meet these people and hear their stories.

Highly recommended.

**Quotes taken from ARC**
Profile Image for Andrea.
687 reviews104 followers
May 15, 2019
4.5 Stars!

I’ve lived in California for over 20 years, but my New York roots run deep. I was born, raised and went to college in New York. On September 11, 2001, I experienced the horror from 3,000 miles away, but also intimately in the way you feel your past and community calling to you. Kids I went to high school with died that day, both in the towers and as dedicated first responders. I called home repeatedly in the days that followed, only to hear the suffocating news of those missing and not coming back.

I’ve avoided all 9-11 books to date, and yet, I picked up this book because I knew the author would handle it with proper reverence. (Because she is GENIUS!) I was not disappointed. It was clever, thoughtful and sincere. There was even sweetness and humor sprinkled about. I will confidently hand this one off to my daughter soon. Well done!!
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,991 reviews363 followers
August 19, 2019
Like all Buxbaum books I loved this and the fact that it wasn't just a fluff read (not that there is anything wrong with fluff!). I love the depth and emotions all her books have and all the feels that they bring out in me. Most of all, I love that they are relate-able and how they always leave me with a smile on my face.

The relationships in this were epic. Jack has to be one of my most favorite characters and I loved his and Noah's friendship!!
Profile Image for Renee (itsbooktalk).
394 reviews404 followers
June 12, 2019
Good news friends...My recent reading slump has ended with this touching, thought provoking story that evoked so many emotions! At times it’s quite sad, but I also found myself laughing while being pulled into the lives of Abby, Noah and Jack. ⠀⠀
I often tell myself I don’t like YA, then along comes a wonderful review from one of my go to book friends that tempts me into grabbing the book ASAP- in this case it was Larry’s review from @the.bookishworld.of.yrralh (instagram) ⠀⠀
What I loved about this story was that it centered on a part of 9/11 that I hadn’t thought about before...the survivors in one of the hundreds of historic pictures taken that day. In this story, Abby, who becomes known as “baby Hope” was a one year old who was rescued from the World Trade Center day care center by one of her caretakers and their pic was snapped along with several other strangers as they ran away from the falling towers. I knew I was invested in this story when I had to stop reading and Google whether there really was a day care center...there was...& I learned this along with many other details of 9/11 that I didn’t know or hadn’t considered all these years later. ⠀⠀
Abby’s story is interspersed with Noah’s who has his own reasons for wanting to find out more about the pic that made Abby famous. I loved Noah’s friendship with his best friend Jack, both were funny while being down to earth good kids. They reminded me of the best friends in the movie Booksmart (excellent movie btw)
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,378 reviews233 followers
May 30, 2019
Wow! I forgot how amazing it is to read a Julie Buxbaum book. Once again, she gifted me with a story that touched my heart, and its mere mention brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

I keep saying this, but 9/11 books are tough for me. That day left an indelible mark on me, and I will admit, that some of the tears I shed were the sad kind. The first chapter was so emotional, and the interviews with the 9/11 survivors were both touching and heartbreaking. But, why I value a book like this is because we now have a generation, who only know of the attack from their history books. Buxbaum managed to write a beautiful and moving story, which included romance and humor, and also helps remind us to never forget what happened that day.

Buxbaum built this story around two very likable teens, and both Abbi and Noah quickly endeared themselves to me. Although I was quite frustrated with a secret Abbi was keeping from her parents, I still wanted her to be able to enjoy her summer free of Baby Hope's legacy. At the same time, I really needed her to get some answers with respect to her little secret. It was beyond stressing me, because I cared for her so much.

My heart went out to Noah too. He was so cute and sweet and goofy in the best way. Watching that little spark ignite between him and Abbi filled me with joy. But, I also wanted Noah to get the answers he was seeking. He needed closure, and Buxbaum did a fantastic job giving it to him.

I know I am making this sound all emotional, but it was actually a really well balanced story. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I swooned, I even got a little bit mad. Buxbaum did a phenomenal job bringing me through the highs and the lows, and never, at any point, did she leave me hopeless.

I could wax poetic about this book forever, but instead, I will give you a few bullet points:
• Jack was an amazing best friend and I ❤️ him.
• Abbi's parents were fabulous and I loved what was running in the background between them.
• Grandmas - you know I adore them, and Abbi's was fantastic, even if her subplot was a bit heartbreaking.
• Some of my father's friends are currently suffering from 9/11 cough, so I appreciate Buxbaum raising a little awareness of that.
• Noah's comedic attempts were rather fun, and it's a little bit out of the norm hobby, which I liked.
• The subtle shoutouts to Tell Me Three Things and What to Say Next delighted me.

I cried a lot as I wrote this review, because the book was just that touching for me. Buxbaum is on my shortlist of authors, who produce YA perfection, and Hope and Other Punch Lines more than earned its place on that list.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Amber’s reading.
538 reviews97 followers
September 4, 2019
Reading Tell Me Three Things by this author gave me a love for YA. It’s one of my favorite books and will make me read anything Julie Buxbaum writes. I love how her YA books feel authentic. From the main characters with their realistic family dynamics to the dialogue and awkward social situations. Reading her books bring back so many of those teenage feelings that I haven’t felt in so long. Her books aren’t NA or erotic fiction masquerading as YA. These are safe books that teenagers can read and adults will also enjoy.

Profile Image for Jaimie.
384 reviews296 followers
October 9, 2019
I’ve now read all three of Julie Buxbaum’s YA novels and I’ve loved them all. She’ll certainly be an auto-buy author for me from now on. Hope and Other Punchlines is the stunning, emotional story of a 9/11 survivor, Abbi. On her first birthday, she was saved from the South Tower’s day care center. Wearing a paper crown and clutching a birthday balloon, Abbi Hope was photographed with the tower crumbling behind her. The photograph became a phenomenon and from then on she was no longer just Abbi, she was Baby Hope, National Treasure.

We pick up with Abbi fifteen years later. She is now a teenager unable to escape notoriety and the grief that surrounds her like fog everywhere she goes. Abbi is committed to having a happy summer, counseling at a camp for four year olds where no one seems to recognize her. And that’s where she meets Noah. His father died on 9/11 and he is desperate for Baby Hope’s help to interview all the survivors photographed alongside her in that famous photo.

Abbi and Noah both have secrets.

I read Hope and Other Punchlines in a single day. I couldn’t put it down. Fast-forward to 3 a.m., when I was lying in bed in the fetal position, crying, having just read the final page. But don’t worry that Noah and Abbi’s story is one solely of grief and darkness and loss. Because these two special characters are also full of hope and resilience and by the time I closed the cover, I cared for them deeply.

If I had remembered or reread the summary for this book before starting it, I would probably have passed on to something else, unsure I was up for a story so heavily steeped in the tragedy of 9/11. That would have been such a loss. Because this story moved me and shook me and will stick with me for a long, long time.

5 stars
Profile Image for T. Rosado.
1,678 reviews41 followers
March 10, 2020

5 Stars

This is the 3rd book I've read by this author, which for me is the magic number. After rating three books at 4.5+ stars by an individual author, they usually merit “favorite author” standing. Julie Buxbaum has now become one of my favorite YA authors. (I still need to read her adult lit.)

Hope and Other Punchlines was in essence a "9/11" story that focused on the tragedy's effect on two teens and their families. I'd recently read a couple of books with 9/11 as their backdrop, but not from the perspective of the children born on and around that date. I really enjoyed this shift in viewpoint. Noah and Abbi weren't actually there and/or weren't old enough to remember, but their lives were drastically altered because of it. At the same time, through their eyes, we meet a number of adults who were present and therefore, help fill the gaps in Noah and Abbi's stories. The book was emotionally stirring with a highly compelling writing style. Like this authors previous work, she had a quick wit when it came to banter and commentary. That wit was a nice balance when paired with the heartbreaking turns in the story. Most importantly and not always found in YA lit, I felt that these were realistically written characters with authentic family relationships. I was immediately drawn in at the start and then didn't want to leave when nearing the end. A moving story by a consistently wonderful author.
Profile Image for Kara Gemian.
519 reviews39 followers
January 24, 2019
This was a fantastic read.

As someone who has lived in Northern New Jersey all her life and remembers seeing papers floating in the sky on 9/11 after my Elementary school was evacuated to the field for a bomb threat, this book really meant a lot. I am lucky that I didn't know anyone personally that was lost that day and none of my close friends did either, but that of course does not take away from the tragedy.

This is the first book I have read regarding the subject and I honestly didn't know it was about the aftermath of that day until I started reading, but Julie Buxbaum is an auto-buy/auto-read author and that cover is just gorgeous!

I absolutely loved Abbi and Noah's story. I laughed out loud and cried and then laughed some more. Buxbaum did a wonderful job of laying out the grief of this fictional town and fictional picture while still keeping everything completely real and accurate. There is a town in NJ that has the highest number of deaths from that day, a thought that I had never entertained before, there is something called 9/11 Syndrome. This book is real and important.

Hope and Other Punchlines is heavier than Buxbaum's other YA novels, but don't let that stop you from reading. IT WAS SO GOOD. Read it and you won't be disappointed.

*Thank you to Edelweiss for the opportunity to read!*
Profile Image for Kathleen Glasgow.
Author 13 books5,473 followers
December 23, 2018
This book is an exquisitely crafted look at public and private grief and what it means to grow up in the shadow of tragedy. Julie Buxbaum knows how to mix the sad with the funny in a brilliant, heart-melting way. Loved this so much.
Profile Image for Bridgett.
Author 17 books414 followers
September 2, 2019
I know better than anyone that you can't always draw a straight line from the who you once were to the who you are now.

Rather unexpectedly, this novel stole my heart. I chose this for my book club's September selection, thinking the 9/11 aspect would make for some interesting discussions. Honestly, though, for the most part, I've surpassed the point in my life when YA novels really resonate, and didn't have high hopes. But then the sweet, fresh voices of Abbi and Noah made me smile and laugh...and I knew I'd chosen a winner. Hope and Other Punchlines, while at times gut-wrenchingly emotional...is also funny and immensely hopeful. It's a quick, easy read told from the two protagonist's points of view. The chapters are short and direct, which I think works quite well in this format.

I see other reviewers talking about the lack of chemistry between Abbi and Noah, but for 16 year old children, I thought their chemistry was off the charts. At that age, chemistry is going to be quite different than it is for those of us in adult relationships. They were beautifully perfect. And Abbi's grandma? Loved every word she uttered. She was a gem.

At it's heart, this book is about so many pertinent topics--family, grief, friendship, guilt, loss....and yes, even hope. It's a joyful story I plan on sharing with my 14 year old daughter.

Before I wrap this review up, I have to comment on all the people stating jokes shouldn't be made about terrorist attacks. I kindly disagree. As cliché as it sounds, laughter truly is the best medicine. Humor heals our souls. And what could possibly be a bigger F.U. to the terrorists and their supporters than seeing us happy and laughing? Even Pete Davidson, an SNL cast member who lost his father on 9/11, found it in his heart to make a joke about this tragedy...and it was funny.

Anyway, I'm stepping off my soap box and recommending this book to each and every one of you.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,147 reviews249 followers
May 6, 2019
IT's a myth, this concept of a before and an after. Every time I see a perfect blue sky, want to know what I really think? I think there are only afters and after thats."
This story kinda snuck up on me. There was good character moments and surprisingly a lot of humorous dialogue, but I didn't really connect with it for a large part of the story. But the last 50 pages really elevated the story. I felt the emotional weight and really connected with the characters. There was a lot of happy resolutions (a few sad ones too), but if anyone deserved a bit of happy in their lives it's Abbi Goldstein who feels the weight of a legacy forced upon her on her sholders everyday. I LOVED al lthe family dynamics - with Abbi's family and with Noah's. Noah and Jack's friendship was truly amazing, and I thought the romance was cute. This story really has so much going for it - it's a wonderful exploration of grief, guilt, and survival all wrapped up in a single, inspiring picture.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Catherine McKenzie.
Author 25 books4,561 followers
May 12, 2019
Fantastic and life-affirming

Another fantastic YA read from Julie Buxbaum. She weaves a classic love story into the raw emotions of loss and life after 9/11. The subject is treated with sensitivity and - yes - humour. Because love and laughter is how we heal. I laughed and cried and I love this book.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,625 reviews5,070 followers
Shelved as 'try-again'
July 9, 2019
DNF/set aside @ 30%

Meh. I might pick this back up and try it again soon. I mean, I probably will? It's just... *sigh* I really, really, really hate this love interest. I think he's toxic and gross and he's blackmailing Hope, and it's all icky and low-key ruining the vibe of the entire story for me.
Profile Image for Alana.
653 reviews1,245 followers
December 12, 2019
“I’m so, so tired of always worrying about our world splitting into a before and an after again.”

This was my first novel I've read by Julie Buxbaum but it definitely will not be my last. The writing, characters (for the most part), and overall theme of the story worked so well for me. Reading books about 9/11 have become a bit of surreal experience for me. Mainly because I was old enough to remember exactly where I was when the planes hit the towers and yet not old enough to immediately understand what it would mean for the world as we knew it going forward. Hope and Other Punchlines furthered the surreal-ness for me because it takes place in New Jersey and more specifically in the towns surrounding where I grew up, so to read that in a book was a really cool but strange experience.

Abbi Goldstein, better known as Baby Hope, has become a symbol of hope after the 9/11 attacks. She was photographed on her first birthday which happens to be September 11th wearing a crown and holding a balloon as one of the towers is collapsing in the picture behind her. People all over the country have held on to this picture for years since the terror attacks making it become one of the most popular pictures in the face of the tragedy (think the real life falling man or dust woman picture), but Abbi hates the picture and everything it stands for.  She just wants to live life as normal teenager and decides to become a camp counselor for the summer a few towns away where she can hopefully remain anonymous...until she meets Noah.

Noah immediately recognizes Abbi from the Baby Hope picture, but for him the picture has an entirely different meaning, it's the last picture of his father still living. Noah is desperate for answers on what happened to his father on that fateful day and hopes to team up with Abbi and meet with the other people in the Baby Hope picture try and find some answers. One of the things that I really enjoyed is that aside from both teens are going through their own issues there are still other simple plot points that make this an enjoyable read from start to finish. It's also about finding new friends, first love, and maybe even some potentially disastrous post 9/11 health issues all wrapped in one hopeful yet heartbreaking story.

Remember when I said I liked the characters but added the "for the most part" bit? Well, here's why and this is also why I had to deduct a star from this. I really enjoyed everyone in this story except for Noah, which is basically half the story. Noah comes off as a toxic love interest and not only that, he blackmails Abbi into going on the interviews with him to try and get answers about his father. Blackmail never sits well with me and this time in particular it left a really sour taste in my mouth. Once that bit of the plot happened I was never able to look at Noah the same afterwards. While I do understand his desperation for answers I wish it could have been done in a nicer way.

Favorite Quotes 

“You really believe that? Everything happens for a reason?" I ask, because I can think of no good reason for those towers to fall, or for a kid to shoot up a middle school. Any conception of God I have doesn't allow for that sort of unimaginable horror.

"I know better than anyone that you can't always draw a straight line from the who you once were to the who you are now."

“We need the serious to recognize the funny, and the funny to give us even a shot in hell at surviving the serious.”

All in all, even though the whole blackmail thing didn't work out for me, I still did enjoy the majority of this. It's equal parts hopeful and heartbreaking and I definitely can't wait to read more from this author in the future.

Buddy read w/: Amanda (Classy x Book Reviews)

Blog | Twitter
Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,037 followers
May 14, 2019
I dunno guys. I really wanted to like this book.

I didn't care much about the characters. I would find myself not even registering what I was reading at times because I was bored. Some portions of dialogs made me cringe. Making jokes about 9/11 didn't sit well with me. I still remember the moment when I saw the news that day so vividly.

I still think Julie Buxbaum has it in her to write another hit. This just isn't it.
Profile Image for Tanya (Girl Plus Books).
973 reviews76 followers
August 9, 2019

Sixteen-year-old Abbi has lived her life in the shadow of 9/11 – not only as a survivor but as the subject of a famed photograph from that day. She longs to escape the notoriety even as she is dealing with health issues that stem from her exposure to the fall-out on that terrible day. She meets Noah while working as a summer camp counselor and is drawn into his project to track down everyone from the famous photograph. What starts as unwilling participation turns into a genuine friendship – and possibly more – when Noah and Abbi spend more and more time together. Their friendship was so genuine and the dual POV worked so well at showing how they both navigated the new relationship. Noah’s own connection to 9/11 broke my heart and, as truths were revealed, I definitely shed some tears. The secondary characters were stellar – including Abbi’s parents and grandmother, Noah’s friend Jack, and the other survivors from the photograph – and they each added so much depth and realism to the story.

"I’m so, so tired of always worrying about our world splitting into a before and an after again."

A book whose narrative focuses heavily on 9/11 can be an emotional look at a tragic and defining moment in U.S. history – or a disrespectful plot device used to play on emotions. Thankfully, Buxbaum’s Hope and Other Punch Lines falls into the former category and she writes about 9/11 and its aftermath with respect and gravitas. This was a moving and unforgettable story. (So many thanks to my friend Sam for sending me her hard copy of this book. A book is always a special gift and this one was truly a stand-out. Thank you, Sam!)
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,709 reviews928 followers
June 10, 2019
I really wish I had liked this one more. Too bad that it was just full of cliches and one main character (Noah) I disliked from beginning to end. I thought Abbi was fine, but she honestly needed a life since she seemed wholly dependent on her ex-best friend Cat to give her a social life. And I also kind of hated that Abbi was fine with forgiving Noah and his whole blackmail thing, but didn't want to try to make up with Cat. I don't know, I think Buxbaum just dropped that whole thing and it didn't make sense in context of what the book was supposed to be about, that your life can change in a moment, so love, forgive, etc. and just be in the moment.

"Hope and Other Punchlines" follows 17 year old Abbi and Noah. Abbi we find out is pretty famous due to her picture being taken when she was 1 and a woman carrying her out of one of the towers that fell on 9/11. Abbi hates being known as "Baby Hope" and has to deal with total strangers running up to her, hugging her, and crying all over her. She is working at a camp for the summer to try to come to terms with the end of her long-term friendship with her best friend Cat and the fact that she is scared she may have caught something from 9/11 and that a lot of people who were near Ground Zero that day developed cancer. So that seems like a lot right? Well Buxbaum then introduces Noah. Noah is focused on finding the men and women in the photo of "Baby Hope." When he realizes that Abbi is also working at the same summer camp he is, he tries to talk her into helping him out with tracking people down. When she refuses, he blackmails her to helping him or he will let everyone know who she is. Yeah, he's not a charmer. That first exposure to Noah colored the whole book. I just didn't like him.

So first off, Abbi's family is a bit messy (not in a bad way). Her parents divorced when she was younger, but still live 2 houses down from each other. They are constantly in and out of each other's homes. It makes zero sense why they are not together and I started to think of GOOP and conscious uncoupling and shuddered. We get to hear via Abbi's POV her thoughts on 9/11, how it makes her feel to be one of the few who survived that day, and how lonely she is now that she and Cat are no longer friends. Why she doesn't tell her parents she thinks she is ill is some teenager logic which I didn't even mind. When we're young and even when we're older we think we can just ignore something and it somehow isn't real.

Noah bugged me a lot. I didn't like him even when we find out what he is supposedly trying to do via Abbi meeting with other survivors. I thought the whole thing made zero sense and should have been resolved with actually speaking to his mother. He was an ass towards his stepfather and just acted entitled the whole book. His ongoing mess of trying to find a funny 9/11 joke made me cringe inside.

The secondary characters don't feel very developed. I felt sorry for Cat especially when you hear about her backstory. I really think it would have been smarter for Buxbaum to maybe have dual POVs with Abbi and Cat instead. I think having it focused on Noah added nothing. And I pretty much hated that Abbi and Cat never had the conversation that I think they should have. Just trying to do a big well friends grow apart thing didn't work especially when we hear about how close these two were and perhaps Cat just had lingering issues about the whole Baby Hope thing.

The writing was fine, the chapters were short though. Sometimes the chapters were only a page. Buxbaum starts on Abbi's POV and then goes back and forth to her and Noah.

The setting of the book primarily takes place in New Jersey, but with references to New York City and the anniversary of 9/11. I thought the whole book was slightly depressing. I was 21 on 9/11 and was about to head to school in Pittsburgh when we heard about the planes and towers. My mom made me drive back to my hometown and we were all scared. I had friends who were in the National Guard who were scared because our first thought was war when we heard the planes were brought down intentionally. I just remember it feeling surreal. That I was in some weird dream and I would wake up soon.

The ending is supposed to be uplifting I think, and I did think it was great of Buxbaum to highlight all of the diseases that people at Ground Zero were being diagnosed with post 9/11. I think I disagree with her though that 9/11 isn't in people's minds. I mean that's why the U.S. went to war (again) in Iraq. It's brought up about every other week when the media is discussing Saudi Arabia. Maybe it's uppermost in my mind since I started off in government in 2013 and 9/11 was mentioned on a daily basis in our reports. We used that as a reference point for the longest time in any report discussing Iraq and Afghanistan. Anyway, I ultimately thought this was an okay read, just not in love with it.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 985 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.