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Harley, like a person
Written by Cat Bauer


Kliatt, 7/1/2000
"Harley is a freshman in high school, from a home where there is explosive anger and a great deal of fear and loathing. She has been a ‘good girl' making straight A's and trying to obey her demanding parents. This novel chronicles her slide downhill. . . . Because of the marvelously authentic-sounding first-person narrative, readers will love Harley and admire her gritty search for answers, worry over her wild behavior, and be happy at the resolution of this story."


Booklist, 6/1/2000
"‘My house is a place of pain / A sea of shame / A hurtful chain.' Harley Columba is miserable. Trapped in a home with a belligerent but distracted mother and an alcoholic father, she is convinced that she is adopted in spite of the family legend of her birth—in New York City on the anniversary of John Lennon's death. She longs for a real family, parents who listen to and appreciate her—like a real person. In fact, Bauer makes Harley a likeable, gutsy, full-bodied character whose life revolves around school, friends, her art, and her obsession with finding her ‘real' father. The fact that Harley is actually adopted is a tantalizing plot element. As it turns out, Harley's finding her father is relatively easy, but reconciling his disappearance, her ‘parents' destructive relationship, and her place among the three adults is not. Harley's strength of character, her humor, and her vulnerability will resonate with teen readers—those who are adopted as well as those who occasionally wish they were."


The Horn Book, 5/1/2000
"In a frank first-person narrative, Harley tells the story of her fifteenth year, a year in which she uncovers the truth about her parentage, loses her best friend, experiences her first love (first two, in fact), and begins to define herself. The teenager-ish writing convincingly evokes Harley's honest voice, the only honesty to be found in her secretive and unhappy family. . . . [T]he substance of Harley's experiences and her solid characterization are maintained throughout, and the unaffected narrative provides a clear picture of the people and places around her. In the tense, claustrophobic home dominated by her violent father, Harley takes refuge in a storage closet; at her Jersey high school she navigates the more typical teenage minefields of social cliques, turbulent romance, and controlled substances. Despite the profound apathy at home, Harley even manages to retain some self-confidence in her natural talent for painting. Cat Bauer's first novel offers a compelling read and a close-up look at adolescent emotional life, sure to appeal to readers grappling with their own."



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