Simone has always known she was adopted, but has suppressed any curiosity about her past. However, when her birth mother Rivka develops cancer, she invites Simone to get in touch, to learn about her heritage before it is too late. Simone and Rivka develop a strong relationship even as Rivka is dying. An interesting twist to the story is that Simone has been raised as a gentile atheist while Rivka is a liberal Jew with a Hasidic background. While Simone makes an effort to learn about the rituals that enrich Rivka’s life, the question of her own religious identity remains open-ended. Rivka’s Hasidic family remains distant and unreceptive to Simone.
The “Jewish angle” of the story is interesting, but the main focus is on Simone’s relationships and growing maturity. The author has even made it easy on her protagonist by giving her a neutral non-believing family rather than one whose beliefs would present conflicts with Judaism. Because the Jewish aspect of the story is not essential to the plot, the book may be considered an additional purchase for Jewish libraries. However, this is a well-written and emotionally charged novel that would make an excellent book for discussion groups, and would be appropriate for Jewish collections serving teens. Communities must consider whether the accepting attitudes towards premarital sex and homosexuality among Simone’s friends make the book right for their libraries. Ages 14 and up.