Monday, May 24, 2010

Never Mind the Goldbergs

Author: Matthue Roth
Publisher: Push, Scholastic
Copyright: 2005
Genre: Young Adult

Hava Aaronson is a modern-Orthodox Jewish girl who doesn't fit the mold - any mold. She calls herself "punk" and mixes Jewish dress with punk outfits. The summer of her junior year in high school, she gets to star in a TV sitcom about a modern-Orthodox family, filmed in Hollywood. She moves to LA on her own and tries to fit in with all the other non-Jewish actors on the show.

Honestly, I did not like Hava at all. She is self-absorbed and not very sympathetic. When she runs away from the show for no good reason, and filming for that week is completely messed up, and she doesn't care - I wanted her to get punished! She gets away with everything, does crazy things and just goes on.

The story itself was OK, but I didn't really see the point to it. Hava doesn't grow or change in any way over the course of the book, she just has an adventure away form home, experiments with her level of religiosity, and then goes home and watches her show air. It's a fun ride, but personally I like books to have a point - not necessarily a moral, but a reason for telling the story.

Also, some details of the story are totally not believable. Like the baby on the show screaming "Osser!" (Hebrew for forbidden) whenever Hava does something forbidden. Yeah, right. And the producers... You only find out towards the end that they are actually three bekeshe-wearing black-hatted Orthodox rabbis and one Chasidish-sounding woman. I don't know so much about modern Orthodoxy, but I'm black-hat Orthodox, and I can tell you that that is just not a possibility! Sure, Orthodox people become producers and actors and whatever, but they chuck religion on the way. Maybe it's possible for a modern-Orthodox girl to star in a TV show during the summer and then return to her friends and school the next year, but if anyone in my community tried that, it would never work.

The style of the book, though, is fun to read.If you can stretch your imagination over some points and ignore some, this book is a wild ride.

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