When the Israeli grandmother she never knew about gets sick, sixteen-year-old Amy Nelson's biological father overturns her summer plans and drags her off to Israel. As the illegitimate daughter of a college affair, Amy realizes that her relationship with her father is rocky at best. Now it is goodbye tennis camp, best friend, and new boyfriend, and hello moshav, new family, and strange customs. Amy, somewhat spoiled and stubborn, wants nothing to do with her father or his homeland. Mine fields, soldiers toting machine guns, and a cousin determined to hate her do not encourage Amy to change her mind. Gradually her grandmother, father, and new friends win her over. A summer fling with a brooding nemesis turned thoughtful boyfriend helps move the story along. Although the lessons learned and final revelations are predictable, Amy's feisty attitude and penchant for drama keep the reader engaged. With just a touch of spice to the romance, this fast read is good for public and school libraries and will appeal to chick-lit readers who like a few serious issues tucked in with their fluff.
Amy Nelson, a spoiled 16-year-old who refers to her biological father (Ron) as "Sperm Donor" because he rarely calls and is never around, is about to spend a life-changing summer in Israel. Ron wants Amy to get to know her grandmother, who is sick. Given no other choice, Amy goes with Ron but makes it clear that she is doing so unenthusiastically. Ron tells Amy what to expect, but fails to tell her until the last possible moment that his entire family is unaware that Amy exists. As her time in Israel progresses, Amy often finds herself in self-inflicted embarrassing moments and on the outside of a tight-knit group of friends and family. If Amy can let down the wall she has built up around herself, she just may discover that she is not as alone as she thinks. Humor and subtle character development are featured; readers will at once like and hate Amy as her determined nature is revealed as both a flaw and a strength. With witty and telling chapter headings like "You can run from some problems, but then you get caught up in others," this book is sure to please readers looking for a fun read that also digs deeper into complex emotions. KLIATT Codes: S--Recommended for senior high school students. 2006, Llewelyn, Flux, 234p., $8.95.. Ages 15 to 18.
Amy Barak is a Chicago teen who has moved in with her father because her mother has married and moved to the suburbs. She has two best friends and does well in school. She owns an endearing dog named Mutt who escapes or farts at the most inopportune moments. She met her boyfriend, Avi, while in Israel with her father. She calls him her non-boyfriend because of the distance between them, but she has high hopes for their relationship. She is in classes to convert to the Jewish religion. Then Amy uses her dad's credit card to sign him up for an online dating service, Amy's mom announces that she is pregnant, and a new boy, Nathan, moves into the apartment building. Amy must get a job to deal with the credit card fiasco, face becoming a big sister, and find a way to handle Nathan-something that is complicated by the unexpected arrival of Avi. This book has laugh-out-loud moments. Amy manages to mess up her life in very funny ways, attending dates that she set up for her father and interviewing prospective stepmothers, kissing Nathan in the elevator, being kissed by Nathan in front of the entire school cafeteria, and kidnapping Avi with plastic handcuffs to fix their relationship. Amy is an intelligent, caring character. Readers will be glad to see that she can handle relationships with both Avi and Nathan. Amy's thoughtfulness and depth raise this book above most of the chick-lit genre.
How to Ruin My Teenage Life appears to be a typical pink read, full of shallow characters and a predictable plot. But as you read further, you find that although you can probably guess what is going to happen, the characters are not all that superficial and do in fact care about those around them. This book might not be all that different, but it is fun and upbeat, with an entertaining story line.
The cover and the title are misleading, and I was happily surprised that the book was better than I expected. The plot deals with issues such as split families, religion, and loyalties. It is comical and entertaining, although a bit shallow at times. The tone is light-hearted. I would recommend it to girls who want a light read that does not require much brain activity, and who want to laugh.
Gr 8-10-Amy Nelson is a stereotypical spoiled teen who has stereotypical plans for her summer vacation: shopping, friends, boyfriend. Then, out of nowhere, her long-absent father calls to inform her that the grandmother whom she has never met is ill and that Amy needs to go to Israel to meet her. Before the teen can say, "But I'm not even Jewish!" she is on an Israeli moshav sharing a room with a cousin who hates her for being a spoiled American, lusting after a brooding older boy on the verge of his mandatory military service, and learning more than she ever thought possible about her faith, her family, their history, and their present. The characters are stock, and the lessons Amy learns are expected, but readers are still drawn into her story. The lightness of the narrative sometimes belies the depth of the topics on which it touches, but it is true to the manner in which many American teens would encounter these issues. Best for avid readers of realistic, high school dramedy.-Morgan Johnson-Doyle, Sierra High School, Colorado Springs, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.