School Library Journal
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Gr 9 Up-After discovering her beloved rabbi having sex in the temple with a young woman who isn't his wife, Rachel, 16, begins to question her faith. At the same time, a budding romance with Jake is threatened by her confusing relationship with bad-boy Adam, who happens to be the rabbi's son; her relationship with her best friend, Alexis, is falling apart; her parents' marriage is unraveling; and her grandmother's health is rapidly failing. As a result of mounting pressure, Rachel shatters her "good girl" image. On a shopping trip, she drops items into Alexis's bag and lets her friend take the fall for shoplifting. In the aftermath, Rachel realizes that she must tell the truth. The theme of taking responsibility for one's self is prevalent throughout the novel, yet subtle enough not to put off teens. Another valuable lesson to be gleaned is that people are imperfect. Heiligman's concise sentences coupled with realistic teen dialogue, humor, emotional highs and lows, and risky behavior (there are a few scenes involving sexual behavior and drug use) make this a fast-moving and engaging read. Although Yiddish/Hebrew terms appear throughout, readers can easily follow the plot without prior understanding of them.-Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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This witty but unsettling coming-of-age story from National Book Award- finalist Heiligman (Charles and Emma) traces 15-year-old Rachel Greenberg's fall from innocence after a series of betrayals leaves her angry and confused. Rachel's life is in upheaval: her parents' once-solid marriage is dissolving and her best friend is experimenting with drugs and sex. But Rachel is hit hardest when she catches her hero, Rabbi Cohn, having sex in the sanctuary with a young bride-to-be. Feeling like she has no one to turn to, Rachel enters a downward spiral of her own. She begins a tentative romance with a childhood friend, but she isn't fully able to sort matters out until she starts focusing on tikkun olam, the concept of repairing a damaged world. Although the onslaught of disasters that pile up for Rachel get to be a bit much, and her final confrontation with the rabbi comes off as slightly artificial, Heiligman nails Rachel's reeling emotions as she tries to restore her faith and find answers and redemption. Ages 14-up. Agent: Ken Wright, Writers House. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Running from her parents' constant fighting, Rachel, 15, thinks of asking her kind rabbi for his help. When she gets to the synagogue, though, she overhears him having sex with someone in the bimah sanctuary. Is the rabbi with someone she knows? Rachel enjoys kissing her boyfriend, Jake, but she is not yet ready to go all the way--unlike her one-time best friend, Alexis, who betrays Rachel with Jake and then is glad to tell Rachel, who gets revenge with a horrible trick. Can Rachel ever make it right? The fast-moving, powerful narrative in Rachel's present-tense voice will easily draw teens, not only with its dark drama but also with the spot-on teen banter (when Rachel's hair isn't frizzy for her date, she jokes, Maybe there really is a God ) and wry viewpoint (when the rabbi speaks to Rachel's class, all she reports back is blah blah . . . for a full page of the book). Rooted in the story, the climactic comment is unforgettable: What if the person you respect the most disappoints you beyond belief? What if that person is you? Readers will want to share this novel from the author of the Printz Honor Book and National Book Award finalist, Charles and Emma (2009).--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist