How To Ruin A Summer Vacation (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)by Simone Elkeles
YALSA 2007 Teens’ Top Ten
"A breezy read." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Fresh, fun and fabulous! Guaranteed NOT to ruin your summer vacation!” —Mari Mancusi, author of Boys that Bite
How To Ruin a Summer Vacation
Moshav?/strong>/strong>/em>/strong>… See more details below
YALSA 2007 Teens’ Top Ten
"A breezy read." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Fresh, fun and fabulous! Guaranteed NOT to ruin your summer vacation!” —Mari Mancusi, author of Boys that Bite
How To Ruin a Summer Vacation
Moshav? What’s a moshav? Is it “shopping mall” in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I’d be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home.
Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, “moshav” is not Hebrew for “shopping mall.” Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci.
Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She’s got a serious grudge against her dad, a.k.a. “Sperm Donor,” for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he’s dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she’s never known, where she’ll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she’ll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom for seven people all summer—no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone…
Goodbye pride—hello Israel.
Amy Nelson Barak, introduced in How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (Flux, 2006), is back. She's living in a Chicago high-rise with her Israeli-born father, a security consultant and workaholic, and a dog named Mutt, a gift from her summertime Israeli "non-boyfriend," Avi. Amy has been enjoying a new religious education and exploration of her heritage, which got a running start during her trip to Israel, but the list of annoyances potentially ruining her life is almost too much for her. Dad needs a date and a life, so she signs him up for a Jewish online dating service using his credit card without mentioning it. Her mom and stepdad are expecting a baby, which freaks Amy out. Avi is out of touch while doing basic training in the Israeli army. Perhaps the biggest insult is from Nathan, a geeky-looking but intriguing new guy who completely rubs her the wrong way, but she kisses him anyway. A retaliation kiss from him in the cafeteria is hard to explain when Avi shows up for a surprise visit. Readers picking up the book without prior knowledge can settle into Amy's brink-of-ruination life easily, and they will enjoy her take on the world. This is an undemanding read in which what's wrong can be made right by the last page-just the choice for teens who seek realistic YA fiction free from heavy issues but with appealingly ordinary drama and humor.
Suzanne GordonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
- Demco Media
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY
- Product dimensions:
- 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.80(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
How does a relatively smart sixteen-year-old girl get stuck in a sucky situation she can’t get out of? Well, as I sit at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on a Monday afternoon during the one hour and forty-five minute delay, I think about the past twenty-four hours of my now messed-up life.
I was sitting in my room yesterday when my biological father, Ron, called. No, you don’t get it . . . Ron never calls. Well, unless it’s my birthday, and that was eight months ago.
You see, after their affair in college, my mom found out she was pregnant. She comes from money, and Ron . . . well, he doesn’t. Mom, with her parents pushing her along, told Ron it would be best if he didn’t have a big part in our lives. Boy, were they wrong. But the worst part is he gave up without even trying.
I know he puts money into an account for me. He also comes by to take me out to dinner for my birthdays. But so what? I want a father who’ll always be there for me.
He used to come around more, but I finally told him to leave me alone so my mom could find me a real dad. I didn’t really mean it; I guess I was just trying to test him. He failed miserably.
Well, the guy phones this time and tells my mom he wants to take me to Israel. Israel! You know, that little country in the Middle East that causes so much controversy. You don’t have to TiVo the news to know Israel is a hotbed of international hostility.
I know I’m off on a tangent, so let’s get back to what happened. My mom hands me the phone without so much as an “it’s your dad” or “it’s the guy who I had a one-night stand with, but never married” to warn me it was him.
I still remember what he said. “Hi, Amy. It’s Ron.”
“Who?” I answer.
I’m not trying to be a smartass, it just doesn’t register that the guy who gave me fifty percent of my genes is actually calling me.
“Ron . . . Ron Barak,” he says a bit louder and slower as if I’m a complete imbecile.
I freeze and end up saying nothing. Believe it or not, sometimes saying nothing actually works in my favor. I’ve learned this from years of practice. It makes people nervous and, well, better them than me. I huff loudly to let him know I’m still on the line.
“Um, I just wanted you to know dat your grandmudder is sick,” he says in his Israeli accent.
A faceless image of a small white-haired old lady who smells like baby powder and mildew, and whose life’s goal is baking chocolate chip cookies, briefly races across my mind.
“I didn’t know I had a grandmother,” I say, emphasizing the ‘th’ because Ron, like every other Israeli I’ve ever met, can’t say the ‘th’—that sound is not in their language.
My mom’s mom died shortly after I was born so I was one of those kids without a grandma. A pang of sorrow and self-pity from never knowing I had a grandma and now knowing she’s ‘sick’ makes me feel yucky. But I shove those feelings into the back of my head where they’re safe.
Ron clears his throat. “She lives in Israel and, uh, I’m going for the summer. I’d like to take you with me.”
“I’m not Jewish,” I blurt out.
A little sound, like one of pain, escapes from his mouth before he says, “You don’t have to be Jewish to go to Israel, Amy.”
And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know Israel is smack dab in the middle of a war zone. A war zone!
“Thanks for the offer, but I’m going to tennis camp this summer. Tell Grandma I hope she gets over her illness. Bye,” I say and hang up.
Wouldn’t you know it, not more than four seconds go by before the phone rings again. I know it’s Ron. A little ironic he’s hardly called twice in a year and here he is calling twice in a matter of seconds.
My mom picks up the phone in the living room. I try to listen through my bedroom door. I can’t hear much. Just mumble, mumble, mumble. After about forty long minutes she comes knocking at my door and tells me to pack for Israel.
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Amy, you can’t avoid him forever. It’s not fair.”
Not fair? I cross my arms in front of my chest. “Excuse me, what’s not fair is that you two didn’t even try and live like parents. Don’t talk to me about fairness.”
I know I’m sixteen and should be over it by now, but I’m not. I never said I was perfect.
“Life isn’t simple, you’ll realize that when you’re older,” she says. “We’ve all made mistakes in the past, but it’s time to mend them. You’re going. It’s already settled.”
Panic starts to set in and I decide to take the guilt trip route.
“I’ll be killed. Unless that’s what you ultimately want—”
“Amy, stop the dramatics. He’s promised me he’ll keep you safe. It’ll be a great experience.”
I try for another two hours to get out of it, I really do. I should have known trying to argue with my mom would get me nothing except a sore throat.
I decide to call my best friend, Jessica. Supportive, understanding Jessica. “Hey, Amy, what’s up?” a cheery voice answers on the other end of the line. Gotta love caller ID.“
My parents decided to ruin my life,” I tell her.
“What do you mean ‘parents’? Ron called?”
“Oh, yeah, he called. And somehow he convinced my mom to cancel my summer plans so he could take me to Israel. Could you just die?”
“Um, you don’t really want to hear my opinion, Amy. Trust me.”
My eyebrows furrow as I slowly realize Jessica, my very dearest friend in the world, isn’t going to back me up one hundred and ten percent.
“It’s a war zone!” I say it slowly so she gets the full impact.
Is that a laugh I hear on the other end of the line?
“Are you kidding?” Jessica says. “Heck, my mom goes to Tel Aviv every year to go shopping. She says they have the clearest diamonds ever cut. You know the little black dress I love? She got it for me there. They have the best European styles and—”
“I need support here, Jess, not some crap about diamonds and clothes,” I say, cutting off her ‘Israel is all that’ speech. Jeez!“
Sorry. You’re right,” she says.
“Don’t you ever watch the news?”
“Sure, Israel has its share of problems. But my parents say a lot of what we see on TV is propaganda. Just don’t hang out at bus stops or go to coffee shops. Ron will keep you safe.”
“Ha,” I say.
“Are you mad at me?” Jess asks. “I could lie and tell you your life is ruined beyond repair. Would that make you feel better?”
Jessica is the only person who can make fun of me and get away with it. “You’re just a laugh a minute, Jess. You know I’d never get mad at you, you’re my BFF.”
Although what does it say about our friendship when my BFF has no problems sending me into a war zone?
Less than twenty-four hours later I’m sitting in the airport waiting for our El Al Israel Airlines flight to start boarding.
Looking around, I watch a guy in a dark suit as he crouches on the floor and examines the underside of each row of benches. If he finds a bomb, will he know how to disarm it?
I glance at my biological father, the almost non-existent man in my life, who’s reading the newspaper. He tried talking to me on the way to the airport. I cut him off by putting on my headphones and listening to my iPod.
As if he knows I’m staring at him, he puts his paper down and turns my way. His hair is short. It’s thick and dark, just like mine. I know if he’d grow it out it would be curly, too. As hard as it is, I straighten my curly hair every morning. I hate my hair.
My mom’s eyes are green, mine are blue. People say my eyes are such a bright blue they glow. I consider my eyes my best feature.
Unfortunately, the main thing I inherited from Mom is a big chest. Besides changing my hair, I’d like to have smaller boobs. When I play tennis, they get in the way. Have you ever tried a two-handed backhand with mongo boobs? They seriously should have handicaps in tennis for people with big chests.
When I get older maybe I’ll get a reduction. But Jessica said during a boob reduction the doctor removes your whole areola . . . you know, that pinky part in the middle of your boob, and then after they take out the excess boob they reattach the areola.
I don’t think I’d like my pinky parts detached at all.
As I think about detached areolas, I realize Ron is still looking at me. Although from the expression on his face he probably thinks I’m disgusted with him. I can’t possibly explain I’m thinking of what I’d actually look like with detached pinky parts.
Anyway, I’m still mad at him for bringing me on this stupid trip in the first place. Because of him, I had to drop out of tennis camp this summer. Which means I probably won’t make it on the high school team when tryouts start in the fall. I totally want to make the varsity team.
To make matters worse, Mitch, my boyfriend, won’t even know I’m gone. He went camping with his dad for a couple weeks on a ‘cell phone free’ vacation. It’s still a new relationship. If we’re not together the rest of the summer, he just might find someone else who will be there for him.
I don’t even know why Ron wants me to go with him. He doesn’t even like me. Mom probably wanted me out of the house so she could have privacy with her latest guy.
Her current boyfriend, Marc with a ‘c’, thinks he’s the one. As if. Doesn’t he realize once Mom meets someone bigger or better he’s out of the picture?
“I’m going to the bathroom,” I say to Ron.
I really don’t have to go, but I take my purse and walk down the hallway. When I get out of Ron’s line of vision, I take out my trusty cell phone and keep walking.
Mom got me the cell “for emergencies only.” I’m definitely feeling an emergency coming on.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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All Amy Nelson wanted was to have a regular summer. To spend time with her best friend, Jessica, and her new boyfriend. But that won't happen for Amy by a long shot. It seems that her estranged father wants her to go back to Israel with him to visit her grandmother. Sure, going to Israel may seem exciting to most people, but not for Amy. Not when there are wars going on and the fact that she has to go with a man that she hardly knows. The one good thing that may come from this is the coolest fashions that her best friend is always telling her about.
Before she knows it, Amy's mother makes her go and she's on the next plane to Israel. Things couldn't get any worse for Amy at this point; well, actually they can. When she arrives, Amy sees something totally different then what she would see at home in Chicago. There seems to be soldiers and guards at every corner. Not only that, but Amy just discovered that she isn't sleeping in a fancy hotel, but more like an old house, with one bathroom and seven other people that she's never met. Then there's her cousin Snotty, I mean Osnat, who seems to hate Amy the moment she sees her, and the no-shirt cute-jerk, Avi, who Amy happens to see everywhere she turns. If only she could just get him out of her mind. There's also her aba, or grandmother, that for someone she hardly knows, Amy discovers there's a deep connection between the two of them.
With an entirely new family and obnoxious people in a totally different country, it seems like this might be the craziest summer yet for Amy.
HOW TO RUIN A SUMMER VACATION, no doubt, was the greatest book I've read in a long time. Not only does the basis of the book pull you in, but the cast of characters all charm their way into your heart. Even though Amy may be a little bratty at times, every obstacle she goes through and every awkward situation for her makes reading the book worthwhile. Simone Elkeles eliminates all the myths we had about Israel and introduces a completely new culture that I, for one, hardly knew anything about. Not only will you begin to appreciate Amy's new culture, but you'll also think about your own culture and how unique it is. The sequel to this book, HOW TO RUIN MY TEENAGE LIFE, will release on June 1, 2007.
I can honestly say that is was a witty heartwarming beautiful 175 page story . I didn't expect this book to be ..... whats the word .... Amazing . Everything felt natural and pure . Amy Nelson Barak starts out Hating Ron aka the Sperm Donor as she likes to call him . Her parents , That never actually act like parents , decide that she should go to Israel with the Sperm Donor , saying it would be good life experience . She is furious and scared of going Israel aka the War zone . The she meets her sick Grandmother or Safta (Grandmother) that her same blue eyes , Her Dodor ( uncle) Chaim , Her Doda (aunt) Yucky , Matan her cute baby cousin , and her cousin O'snot along with her friends Moron , Ofta , Avi , Doo-Doo , O'dead . She starts with a very rocky beginning . O'snot and Avi act like they hate her while the others support he the best they can as friends . Moron leaves to join the Israeli army . And after that things start looking up . She finds herself falling hard for Avi and him falling for her , besides the fact that his leaving to join the army . She starts a-new with her Cousin O'snot . And finally embraces her Jewish heritage and being proud of it . I recommend this book !!!!!!!! 100% .
I can't figure out why I like this book. I didn't like the main character. I don't like the lame title. I thought it was overall, predictable. But I couldn't put this book down. There was something about that made me want to keep reading. And in the end, I loved it.
This is a good, interesting and funny book. It was a more serious Chick-lit book, but i like that. It tells the story of Amy, who is going to live with her dad in Israel and the family there she doesn't know. It is also the story of how to place yourself in another culture then you are used to.She learns a lot about herself and her surroundings during the story. I like how its written by SImone Elkeles. It is written in a clearly way and its never dull or unclear where the story takes place and what is happening. That is really a good point about this book! I found it really interesting to read about! This is a reccomendation! I am looking forward to read more of Simone Elkeles books. Marlayne
All Amy Nelson wanted was to have a regular summer. To spend time with her best friend, Jessica, and her new boyfriend. But that won¿t happen for Amy by a long shot. It seems that her estranged father wants her to go back to Israel with him to visit her grandmother. Sure, going to Israel may seem exciting to most people, but not for Amy. Not when there are wars going on and the fact that she has to go with a man that she hardly knows. The one good thing that may come from this is the coolest fashions that her best friend is always telling her about. Before she knows it, Amy¿s mother makes her go and she¿s on the next plane to Israel. Things couldn¿t get any worse for Amy at this point well, actually they can. When she arrives, Amy sees something totally different then what she would see at home in Chicago. There seems to be soldiers and guards at every corner. Not only that, but Amy just discovered that she isn¿t sleeping in a fancy hotel, but more like an old house, with one bathroom and seven other people that she's never met. Then there¿s her cousin Snotty, I mean Osnat, who seems to hate Amy the moment she sees her, and the no-shirt cute-jerk, Avi, who Amy happens to see everywhere she turns. If only she could just get him out of her mind. There¿s also her aba, or grandmother, that for someone she hardly knows, Amy discovers there's a deep connection between the two of them. With an entirely new family and obnoxious people in a totally different country, it seems like this might be the craziest summer yet for Amy. HOW TO RUIN A SUMMER VACATION, no doubt, was the greatest book I¿ve read in a long time. Not only does the basis of the book pull you in, but the cast of characters all charm their way into your heart. Even though Amy may be a little bratty at times, every obstacle she goes through and every awkward situation for her makes reading the book worthwhile. Simone Elkeles eliminates all the myths we had about Israel and introduces a completely new culture that I, for one, hardly knew anything about. Not only will you begin to appreciate Amy¿s new culture, but you'll also think about your own culture and how unique it is. The sequel to this book, HOW TO RUIN MY TEENAGE LIFE, will release on June 1, 2007. **Reviewed by: Randstostipher 'tallnlankyrn' Nguyen
could not put this book down ... totally funny
This book is simply wonderful. Everything about it was to DIE for. I wish it was a bit longer though. :-)
Best book ever!!!!! I couldn't put it down.
When I first started reading, i thought this book was going to be about a spoiled brat. But it was about more. I love how the author takes us through the traneformation of amy. Reading this book made me want to embrace my own culture even more. Thank Simone. Thanks a lot!
Best book ive ever read in my life luv the author....i never read but u cant put this book done....dont forget to read all three books! This book is what us teenagers can relate to and problems that we go through as: love and relationships,divorce,friends and family.
This serious was hilarious, my best friend told me to read them and I loved them so much that I ordered my own copies so I can reread them whenever I want. This may be a teen book but Ms. Elkeles is very good and I am sure she could write for age group and be great. For I am most defiently not in the Teen book age group. ;-)
I don't have a lot to say about this book, except I really liked it. I thought it was going to be a stupid kid's book, because of the title, but it turned out to be really good, and good for teens and older. I would recommend this book.
This book was awsome i loved it from beginning to end!!! i just got reading the first 2 books and cant wait to read the 3rd. Amy is so fun to just read about. She keeps me hanging on what she will do next. I liked how she found herself and i think thats a problem we all have on who we are or what we define ourselves as. Over all this book was aswome this book rocks!!
I first found out about this series from a friend of mine. She told me it was one of the best books she's ever read. I didn't believe her. I finally caved and bought my own copy. I devoured the book in about two hours. It was well- written, hilarious, entertaining, and heartwarming. It taught many wonderful life lessons, for example, to be proud of who you are and where you come from, because that's one thing about yourself you can never change. The romance in this book is also very exciting. The second I finished this book, I ran to the bookstore to pick up the sequel, and that, I can also say, did not disappoint me. Elkeles has done a phenomenal job, and I hope to see a third book out shortly.
This book is the funniest book I ever read. I have this book and I`m going on to chapter 9 already.
I like it. Great read. Great couple. I would not have like my dad to do that, but really like Avi
Wow. Read it in 1 day. Just read it. No matter your age thhis is a nice story. I really dont laugh reading books but this made me a couple of times
I enjoyed learning about a different country almost as much as I enjoyed the romance between Avi and Amy. Well written.
Ok, before I start reviewing the book I have to say a couple of things a bout Israel. I live in Israel. My mom lived in the US for 20 years and moved to Israel because of my dad, therefore I read only english books and speak english better then I speak hebrew.. Sad I know. I started reading this book knowing it will be fun reading about a book that is about Israel and America. About Israeli’s and American’s being together. While I was reading this book I understood that the author didn’t really know many things about Israel. Understandable. But when you write a book you need to make sure you have all the right facts. So before I tell you what I thought about the book I have to clarify somethings that bothered me throughout the book. first of all, in the twenty first century teenagers name’s aren’t usually Osnat, Ofra. It’s more like: Maya, Mia, Noa, Dana, Natalie… 2. I am 19, which means that I am a soldier.We, soldires, are not, I repeat, are NOT bodyguards or work in any security company. We do not stand in airports with guns, outside of clubs (which we don’t call disco- number three of the list that bothered me) checking I.D’s and being called when there’s a fight- That is for the police to take care of. What we REALLY do is: guard our country. Not the clubs or hotels, but the country itself! So reading about soldiers being like bodyguards just had me wanting to explain to you all that it’s not true. 3. We don’t say disco anymore. My dad didn’t even say disco when he was a teen. Just wanted to clarify things. 4. People don’t lick one another at clubs. Sorry to burst you guys’ bubble… Now about the book: I, actually, really liked it. When I started reading it I thought it will be horrible, but I instantly liked it and read it in one sitting. Amy was, sometimes, annoying and too much to handle. I liked that she grew throughout the book. I LOVED the cute relationship between Avi (a typical guy name, even now lol) and Amy. It took some time but I’m happy it happened. I can’t wait to read the second book and see what happens to Amy when she’s in the US. I hope Avi will be involved. Overall it was a fun read. I found myself laughing and smiling to myself most of the time. I really recommend this book. But again, I had to explain some stuff. I give this book 4 stars.