Harley, Like a Person

Harley, Like a Person

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Fourteen-year-old Harley Columba is convinced she's adopted. She's nothing like her abusive, alcoholic father or her bitter, romance novel-reading mother. They have brown eyes, but Harley's eyes are blue. They argue and drink and thrive in dreary suburbia while Harley paints, writes poetry, and longs for a different family and a better life. But then she finds a new, startling piece of evidence: a harlequin doll that's been hidden away for years, with a note around its neck: "Papa loves you forever and a day." Now Harley has genuine hope--hope that she can escape the chaos of the Columba household. Hope that she can find her real father.

Tough, funny, and refreshingly honest, Harley, Like a Person is a compelling story of family, the power of creativity, and the enduring strength of self.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780788794025
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 02/04/2002
Edition description: Unabridged
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

Harley, Like a Person

By Cat Bauer

Knopf Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2007 Cat Bauer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780375937354


I'm under the bed. They don't know it. They think I've run away again. And I have. Only this time I'm under the bed.

I can see their shoes as they walk around my room. There are my mother's small fat feet squished into a pair of blue Kmart specials. My father's cowboy boots stampede across the linoleum floor. In the corner, my tiny sister, Lily, flutters her pink ballet slippers against the metal bed frame. She whispers, "Row, row, row your boat," over and over.

My mother's sneakers zigzag as she paces. "Where does she go? That kid will give me a heart attack!" My father doesn't answer. My father doesn't talk when he's mad. He roars.

My mother shakes my little sister. I crane my neck, straining to see. She grabs Lily's face. She squeezes her cheeks. She is angry at my father, but Lily gets it. Whoever is in the room gets their anger; this is why I'm under the bed. I want to yank my mother's hands away, make her stop. "Where is she?" Her words are hot and Lily gets burned. "Where is Harley?"

My sister knows what's coming. So do I. She starts to tremble. "I . . . I don't know." She speaks the truth. She doesn't know. I feel bad that Lily is being tortured because of me. But although she is only five years old, she is a strong prisoner and does not break.

"Let me handle this, Peppy." My father speaks softly. Not a good sign. Lily is caught in the cross fire;the battle is between the two of them. My father rumbles over to Lily. He removes his belt. It has a big silver buckle in the shape of Texas, even though we live in New Jersey. He never hits people with the belt, only furniture; it is a leather threat. He is a lion tamer and Lily is a kitten. "I'll whip you, girl, if you keep lying like that. I'll give you something to lie about."

Lily wilts. She starts crying. "I'm not lying! I don't know! I don't know where Harley is!" I want to pop out from under the bed and rescue her. Like Superman. Unhand that child!

A pair of black Nikes bounce into the room. My brother, Bean. I hear the tap, tap, tap of Riley's paws right behind him. Riley is a good hunting dog; I hope he doesn't sniff me out.

An apple crunches. "Whatcha doin'?" Bean eats apples.

"Get out and mind your own business, Bean." My father pulls in the reins when he talks to my brother.

"You gonna beat the crap outta her? Can I watch?"


"Come on, Dad. Let's have some action. You go on and on about beating the little runt, but you never do." Bean loves Lily, too.

I think about calling out to Bean. A daring res- cue. We transform ourselves into shining knights and capture the drunken dragon and his fire-breathing wife. We lock them in the dungeon in the basement and rule the house with peace and kindness. But although Bean is tall, he is not strong.

"Bean. Get out. Now." My father puts on his Commander voice.

It works. Bean's black Nikes hesitate, then shuffle out the door. "I'm goin' over to Earl's."

I hear the drawer of my night table open. I turn my head quickly, silently, to the left. My mother stands right next to me. Those sneaky rubber soles have steered her over to my secret drawer. My safe place. My treasures. I try to breathe without making a sound. I could grab her leg and really give her a heart attack, I think. A monster from under the bed. I start to giggle. I force my mind to think of something else.

My mother is rooting through my drawer. She makes noises like a curious raccoon. My heart pounds. I know what she will find. "Roger, look at this!" My father's boots turn away from Lily. I can see the tip of the belt dangling at his side. I peek up at my little sister. She is crying softly. I want to pull her under the bed with me and keep her safe.

"That kid is grounded for six months!" My mother's voice is nails on a blackboard.

"Calm down, Peppy. What's the matter?" Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. The cowboy boots join the Kmart specials.

"Look at these!" I know what she has in her hand. I keep my birth control pills hidden in my night table drawer under a pile of my drawings and my poems. My pills, unopened and waiting. I always thought they were safe there. My pills and my poems.

"Listen to this." Papers rustle. My mother reads out loud. " 'My House,' by Harley Columba. 'My house is a place of pain/ A sea of shame/ A hurtful chain/ My house is awash in gloom/ A desperate room/ A dying bloom. . . .' " I hear a ripping sound. Pieces of white notebook paper sigh on their way to the floor. My poem. I blink away my tears.

"Where did she get them? Where does a fourteen-year-old girl get birth control pills?" My father seems bewildered.

"Well, you're no help--"

"Damn it, don't start! Don't start in on me!" The lion tamer curls the belt in his hand.

My mother won't stop. My mother never stops; she has no brakes. She is a man-eating beast that refuses to jump through the fiery hoop. "What are you going to do? Oh, ho, ho. Just try it." I hear a scuffling sound and a shout. My easel in the corner crashes to the floor. I watch my oil painting of Strawberry Fields skid along the linoleum and stop inches away from my fingers. I want to cry.

I close my eyes and soar up to the quiet, peaceful place. Up, up, up I go. Their voices grow dim and hazy. The three-ring circus begins, but I can barely hear it. It's safe up here, all flowers and rainbows. I stand in the middle of my painting of Strawberry Fields. In my mind, I paint a crystal-blue pond in the center of the meadow. Far away, I hear the crack of the belt as it cuts through the air and strikes the bedpost. I dip my paintbrush into a jar of yellow and sprinkle the meadow with sunshine. The man-eating beast growls; the lion tamer laughs. The pond. Into the pond. I try to dive into the smooth blue water, but it is canvas, not water, and I am falling. . . .

From the Trade Paperback edition.


Excerpted from Harley, Like a Person by Cat Bauer Copyright © 2007 by Cat Bauer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

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Harley, Like a Person 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
DF6B_MeaghanG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Harley has brown eyes, her parents have blue. Harley is convinced she is adopted when her parents tell her that they lost her birth certificate while moving to a new home. living with a drunken father and abusive mother, Harley is destined to find her real father. She sets out to find her father and on the way encounters many things such as drugs, boyfriends and old friends. i really likes this book because she goes through so many real life situations that teens today may be able to relate to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this book was in 8th grade and I loved it. Many teens today face the same problems and issues that Harley Columba, the main character, faces. The Pain that she is feeling when fighting with a friend or dealing with her...Rodger, and frustrations that Harley is feeling with her own identy and searching for her father, you feel too. When you read this book, the images come to life, its like a, well a movie in your head. That makes a good book. When that happens to me when I'm reading, I know i've picked a good one. Usually, I read books that have a horror plot, but this one is a lot different. I love to read, that is all I do is read. I have finally found a book that I can read over and over again and not get bored with it. So many people adults and teenagers alike can relate to this book. Its and excelent book to read if you want to feel what the characters are feelling. I give it an A+!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. I thoroughly ejoyed the character of Harley, she was so real and true to a 14 year old. It is an exciting read with unexpected events and one I found hard to put down! This is one of my favourite books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is just the book I want all 14 year-old teenagers like me to read! It's the best book ever, and I loved it. I just couldn't put it down, I read it all in one sitting. It's now on top of my favorite book list. Every girl has to read this book, it's great!!! ~Whitley 14, WI
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was given to me by my favorite high school teacher and i read it all the time when i want something to do or need help in realizing that i am not alone
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was given to me by a teacher of mine as a present and when I read it it was what I had expected. Though still good. Though I don't plan on reading it again
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Harley, like a person' is a great book. This coming from a person who hates reading I found myself not able to put this book down. Its a realaity that goes on in the real world, and that some of us can related to. I think that this book is a life lesson for some. It shows that if you want something bad enough all you have to do is work for it, and you'll eventuaslly get where you want to be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the most amazing and touching book that I have EVER read. I used to hate to read until I read this book. This book touched my heart, and made me love reading. This is the only book that ever made me cry. I got so into it that I finished it quickly and was upset that it was over. I would reccomend this book to anybody that has had some kind of fight with there parents or some kind of trauma in their life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, yes this was a great book. I know the reviews sound corny, you know, a young teen who thinks shes adopted, searching for her real father..yada yada, but really it only spends a little bit of time on that subject and it is mostly about Harley's screwed up life. Its actually quite entertaining. I loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i got so involved with this book. i felt it as i read it. when i was done i didnt want the story to end...i wanted to read the rest of harleys life. any girl would love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely fantastic. Harley is a unique girl, and i felt like i knew her when i was reading it. it was easy to relate to Harley, and she seemed like a person to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very very good!! i can totally relate to Harley..im sure every teen can! I finished it in 1 day! i couldnt put it down! Go get it people..u wont regret it!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is incrediable!!! Any teen would love to read it! This book has love,hate,freindship,family, you name it Harley like a person gots it! you will laugh,worry,cry maybe, and you'll be itching to find out what happens in the end. this book has it all!. trust me you will absolutly love it!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is truly amazing. I loved it. Things keep getting worse and worse and more things point to her adoption but this 14 year old girl sticks it all out through the good and bad. I recommend this book to anyone who has the soul and mind to read a powerful book like this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was sooo good!!! I really felt like i was harley and feeling her pain as her dad hit her. I wanted to cry with her and tell her it was ok. After Jonny i thought she was never going to get over him. When she first met even she was in love, Even though he gets in troubl alot he cares alot about her and keeps her safe. he was one of the only people that made her feels safe!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harley Like A Person was a book I could not put down! The things that she goes through and all the things that happen made it a very active book. I recommended it to all my friends, and they also agreed that it was an astonishing book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book i have ever read. It is around 200 pages and I couldnt put it down! I finished it in a few hours. The ending makes me want to know more....could there be a second one in the future?.. or not
Guest More than 1 year ago
i couldnt believe it when i started reading this book! Usually, I hardly ever read, and when I do it's just something I have to for school. But, this book was awesome! I cried and I laughed and I thought it was really realistic. I know a lot of people who have lives somewhat like Harley, I told them to check it out and 2 of them said that their family has gotten closer because of this book. Everybody should read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book yesterday at a barnes and noble store near me, and I finished it in the same day. It was a great book, that in the end made me realize that maybe my life really isn't that bad. I could relate to a lot of the stuff that Harley went through with her best friend, because I have gone through that. Any girl who is going through a tough time, or just likes to read, should definately read this book. It was great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic! It was written from the view-point of a 14 year old girl, Harley. She reminds me so much of me it's almost scary! Every girl should read it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much. I'm a junior in high school and I was shocked when other reviewers were 13. You can definitely be older and love this book. Some things that Harley does will make you want to do the complete opposite because of the consequences. Cat Bauer has a sharp wit and I loved that about the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harley Like A Person is a fantastic book that relates to me and just about every other girl I know at my school. Harley's emotions, actions, thoughts, and reactions are so realistic I wouldn't be surprised if the writer wasn't a 15 year old girl herself!The title made sense as the book went on, and I thought it was a good start for the book. I highly suggest people read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harley Like A Person is a wonderful book. This is a book that you will have a hard time to put down. From cover to cover u will love each word that Cat has used to diecribe the character. My name is Maria from San Diego, CA and this book kinda takes me to the future to see that I might go through. I hope that everyone will read this book. I will probably say that grades 6 - 12 should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think harley like a person is a very good book. I am a sophmore in high school and it is hard to believe but this is the first book that i have ever wanted to read until the very end. Any age will love Harley Like a Person....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've only read a few pages so far but can't ge the book out of my mind. What's really great about the book is that the auther grew up in my home town and came to our high school today to talk about it, I was hocked as soon as she started reading. I can't wait till I get the book to read on my own.