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Book: Harley, Like a Person

Author: Cat Bauer

Published: 2000

Book Summary: “Harley’s life changes radically after she finds a note signed ‘Papa loves you forever and a day.’ As things deteriorate at home, Harley’s grades slide and she starts hanging with a wild crowd. As life closes in on her, Harley’s search for her ‘real father’ takes her to New York City and the truth at last” from

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

What this book did well

Cat Bauer’s book “Harley, Like a Person” does a good job of using similes and metaphors to bring her book to life. For example, whenever painting is mentioned by the main character, Harley, one can easily imagine the feelings and picture that is being created.

Bauer also uses a vast amount of sensory words and descriptions to bring the reader into the story. Without Harley’s description of the senses around her, the world would feel bland and hard to understand. One is thrown into these senses right at the start of the story, when Harley is hiding under her bed to get away from her parents, and this draws readers in immediately.

What this book could improve on 

“Harley, Like a Person” tried to be original but failed. The story is full of cliches and familiar teenage angst most young adult stories contain. One of these cliches is Harley’s father being an alcoholic. Her parents aren’t good role models, and this cliche happens in most young adult novels about “edgy” teenagers. Harley tries to act like she’s 17, but the reader can easily see that she’s barely 14 years old. Her problems are self-made throughout the story, which are frustrating to read about. The consequences of her actions can be seen a mile away, too.

The story isn’t compelling, either. If the story focused more on Harley trying to figure out if she’s adopted or not, it would be improved greatly. Instead, the focus is about Harley’s love troubles. These love troubles are boring and don’t help Harley develop as a character. The secrets about who her real father is takes a backseat to her learning how to smoke with the “cool kids” and dancing with a drunk acquaintance at a dance. 

Who should read this book

Parents looking for teaching moments should read this book to their kids. Going through this book with a child and explaining to them how Harley could’ve handled the situation is an efficient way of growing closer with one’s child.

For the parts that briefly mention adoption, a parent could direct their child to the Adoption Choices of Texas website to learn more about what adoption is. Families can start a discussion about the adoption process with their adoptee, if applicable.

More adoption book reviews by Brynne:

Locomotion – Book Review




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