Harley's Ninthby Cat Bauer
Sixteen-year-old Harley Columba knows that October 9th won't be an ordinary day. At 8:00 a.m. she stands on the pier and gazes at the Statue of Liberty, framed by the morning sun and the fading moon. This is the day her first art exhibit opens in a gallery in New York City. The day Harley and her friends will visit the Broadway set designed by her newfound father, the famous Sean Shanahan. The day she returns to her hometown, Lenape Lakes, New Jersey, in stifling suburbia—with Sean, who hasn't been back for 14 years.
The fact that it's the ninth also means that she's five days late. She and Evan were careless that one time, and she could be about to make a mess of her life. October 9th—Harley's ninth—promises to be a monumental day as Harley reexamines herself as an artist, a girlfriend, a daughter, and a person.
From the Hardcover edition.
Gr 10 Up
Two years after the events in Harley, Like a Person (Winslow, 2000), a worldlier but not necessarily more prudent Harley, now 16, is living a fairy-tale existence in New York City with her biological father, Sean, when another crisis erupts. Her period is five days late. Told in the space of one eventful day, the story follows Harley as she is forced to reexamine the very relationships upon which she has come to depend. Sean wavers between careless neglect and sage advice, her boyfriend is a rising rock star not ready to deal with the consequences of his actions, and her mother has basically disowned her. Also crammed into this one turbulent day are a pregnancy test, a newfound grandmother, several altercations, a breakup, and a gallery exhibition. Details are introduced and dismissed at breakneck pace. Only occasional glimpses of the old Harley reconnect readers to the emotional rawness of the first book. This segment in the teen's life includes many scenes that she refers to as a "time, long ago," creating disjointed flashbacks, and making it feel as though there is an installment missing. The primary connector is Harley's passion for her art and her ability to transform her circumstances in the face of adversity. In the end, she is neither pregnant, nor any wiser. True resolution is again elusive as seemingly significant details are glossed over in favor of a neat ending. This continuation of Harley's story should only find an audience with loyal fans.
Erin SchirotaCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
- Random House Children's Books
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- Age Range:
- 14 Years
Read an Excerpt
Today, OCTOBER 9TH
It is the ninth and I am five days late: that is all I can think as I jog down to the Hudson River. Five days late. Five days feels like forever when you’re female and linked to the whimsies of the moon.
Today happens to be John Lennon’s birthday, October 9th. Sean said he would take me to an exhibit of John Lennon’s artwork down in Soho that Yoko has arranged to celebrate the day. It also happens to be Saturday, which is a good thing because tomorrow is Sunday and I have another day before I have to go to my creative-writing class. I want to rewrite my paper. Now that I am five days late, a romantic interlude starring Evan seems somehow inappropriate.
I wrote my essay, “Love with a Bach Tear,” when it was assigned, two weeks ago. Mr. Alberti had issued a challenge and said: “Autobiographical incident. Anything goes.” My fellow seniors at my chic Manhattan school grouped together and decided we would be bold. Natasha Silver, who loves to shock, proclaimed she was going to write her own “private moment” disguised as a Georgia O’Keeffe iris. Livingston Smith said he would counter with a sonnet, “Ode to Little Livingston”—you can only imagine. They have already read theirs out loud, and both were hilarious. My new school is up front and in your face; you would be branded forever in Lenape Lakes, New Jersey, for writing scenes like that. I was worried I wouldn’t fit in with all these urbanites, but it suits me better than Lenape ever did. Everybody is weird, not just me, and at least they have a sense of humor. I wrote the part about Sean’s Tony Award because Bitsy Cooley, this totally obnoxious cretin, is always going on and on about her mother’s Daytime Emmy. I mean, really. Everybody has a parent in The Arts.
“Love with a Bach Tear.” Using music as a metaphor might sound a little flowery, but Penelope Powell’s “An Arrow Through My Heart” was mushier than mine; she is in love with a sculptor. Thank God we ran out of time on Friday; I am up first on Monday. But now, what once seemed poetic now seems prophetic, and there is no way I can read mine out loud.
The air is warm and bright, cut with a dash of autumn. I jog down West Eleventh Street past exotic nannies, already up and out, strolling rosy-cheeked babies, most of them twins. There is a plethora of twins on West Eleventh Street, as if all the women in the neighborhood gossiped over coffee at Brew Bar and decided to go to the same fertility specialist en masse. And then there is me, so fertile that I have managed to conceive outside the womb, a Harley Columba Immaculate Conception.
I push the button to cross West Street and feel the mechanical energy of the cars and trucks whizzing past me, speeding, zooming, just flooring it up to the Lincoln Tunnel and beyond. I feel powerful when the light turns yellow, then red, and forces the entire speedway to stop, a simple miracle that holds back the flood of motorized tension like Moses parting the Red Sea.
I jog across West and over the bicycle path, down to the edge of the river. I flip one leg, then the other, over the rail directly across from the old Erie-Lackawanna Railroad trestle on the Jersey side, and stretch. Then I jog out toward the pier, keeping the Statue of Liberty, which is far, far in the distance, in my sight.
I want to achieve liberty. I want to achieve peace of mind. I want to imagine all the people living life in peace. But it is difficult to rein in your brain when you are five days late and, in addition, have your first art exhibition in a major New York gallery tonight, and, honestly, I am slightly hysterical.
I turn right onto the pier and jog past the freshly mowed, industrial-strength, genetically altered grass, so green and lush it seems artificial. There are white-purple clouds in the sky, ponderous and fluffy, set against a clear aqua blue backdrop; that, too, seems computer generated.
I get to the end of the pier and stop. There is a cute black guy on a walkie-talkie standing in my corner, chatting with his friend, whose name seems to be Adonis. I listen. The static is loud and Adonis is asking ridicu- lous questions like: “It’s sunny here. Yo, Nigel. Is it sunny there?” It is not much of a conversation, and Nigel is in my sacred spot, unknowingly aligned with the torch of the Statue of Liberty beaming between the sun and moon. He is loud, he is happening; the benefits of the position don’t seem to be affecting him in the least.
The irritation bubbles inside me like little goose bumps on the wrong side of my skin. I stop about five feet to the left of Nigel and hold on to the rail, but, of course, now the configuration is off; I am not in direct alignment with the torch of the Statue of Liberty and I am five days late. Then I recognize that my interior goose bumps are not goose bumps at all but strange hormones bouncing inside my body, and I am positive I am pregnant.
“Is that Staten Island? Is that Staten Island over there?” I realize that Nigel is talking to me. He is pointing to New Jersey.
“No. That’s New Jersey. Staten Island is over there, past the Statue of Liberty.” Apparently, Nigel is not from these parts. Apparently, he is unfamiliar with the Code of Behavior at the end of the pier, where one goes for quiet contemplation in the quest of liberty and justice for all. And why has he got a walkie-talkie instead of a cell phone? The rest of the world should not have to suffer because he won’t pay for a line.
“That’s the Statue of Liberty? I didn’t even see it! Cool.” He presses a button on the walkie-talkie. “Yo, Adonis, guess what? I can see the Statue of Liberty. You gotta come out here, man. You gotta see this thing.”
I take a deep breath.
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
Bauer grew up in New Jersey and has also lived in New York City and Hollywood. She now lives in Venice, Italy.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Cat Bauer truly leapt to the next level with Harley¿s Ninth. In my teenage years, I had never identified with a character as greatly as I did with Harley. Cat Bauer¿s first novel was my first encounter with a teenage protagonist that had actual depth to her personality, her emotions and her interactions with the rest of the world. It¿s rare for an author to give such reverence to the gravity of a teenage girl¿s thoughts. Harley lives simultaneously in the past, making classical and mythical references to understand and explain the world around her (like a real artist would do!), the future, (in one instance in the novel, she believes that she might have painted it), and the present, down to every rich moment. All the while, she slides through time with vivid memories and daydreams. Cat Bauer¿s brilliant ability to write in this way makes her character and her story so heartfelt and captivating. Harley¿s personal struggles are common - teenage girls and boys alike will relate to them - and her ability to spin life into art (the best gift an author could give their protagonist) is an inspiration for all. I wholeheartedly recommend Cat Bauer¿s second novel for all ages.
Harley Columba could have been my alter ego. I've always daydreamed about being a young girl like Harley. Her life is everything a teenage girl would fantasize about. Harley¿s success in her art world life comes with the normal ups and downs of teen life. Whether most teens realize it or not, most deal with dysfunction in their family, relationship woes, the struggle between being a teen and dealing with adult issues. That¿s a normal life in today¿s or yesterday¿s society. There is nothing in this book that I can¿t relate to in some form or another and that¿s why I love it so much. Isn¿t that the reason why we read fiction to loose ourselves for a few hours at a time in another world? Cat Bauer hits it right on the nose for her many readers. I just hope the next installment of the life of Harley Columba comes soon!