Explore the stories behind the young adult books you love with the B&N YA Podcast. Join host Melissa Albert, editor of the B&N Teen Blog and bestselling author of The Hazel Wood, as she sits down with fellow YA authors to talk about books, life, their teen years, their pop cultural obsessions, and how they came up with the stories that keep us up at night. Subscribe to listen in on fascinating new conversations every other week.
Julie Buxbaum is the author of warm, funny, feelsy adult and YA novels, including YA debut Tell Me Three Things, a story of anonymous letters, displacement, and first love, and her new book, Hope and Other Punch Lines, about unwanted fame and the personal fallout of a national tragedy, set over the course of one long, life-changing summer. We talked to Buxbaum about hard questions, the click that happens when you know a story is right, and feeling like you’re just playing at being a grownup.
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?