Abby, Tried and True

Don­na Gephart

  • Review
By – June 16, 2021

After Abby Braverman’s best friend and neigh­bor Cat moves to Israel, she isn’t sure how she will han­dle sev­enth grade alone. Although her moms are sup­port­ive and she is close to her old­er broth­er, Paul, Abby strug­gles to social­ize at school with­out Cat. She opts to spend qui­et time in her room, where she jour­nals poems and works on her cro­cheted afghan in the com­pa­ny of her con­fi­dante, a pet tur­tle named Fudge. When Paul is diag­nosed with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer on Rosh Hashanah, Abby’s world is shak­en. As she watch­es Paul brave surgery and dif­fi­cult chemother­a­py treat­ments in the hos­pi­tal, Abby does her best to be empa­thet­ic and help­ful even though it’s hard to wit­ness her usu­al­ly effer­ves­cent broth­er become weak and sick. As Abby, Moth­er Rachel, and Mama Dee han­dle the hur­dles of Paul’s ill­ness and his rocky recov­ery, Abby leans on her new neigh­bor, Con­rad, a thought­ful and kind­heart­ed boy who has some chal­lenges of his own. Despite social dif­fi­cul­ties and an upend­ed home life, Abby even­tu­al­ly learns to advo­cate for her­self, be a sup­port­ive sis­ter, daugh­ter, friend and, ulti­mate­ly, find her strength in the world.

The book fea­tures sig­nif­i­cant Jew­ish con­tent. Through­out the sto­ry, Abby and her fam­i­ly cel­e­brate the Jew­ish hol­i­days, often along­side her wise­crack­ing Zeyde and cro­chet­ing Bubbe, whose speech is pep­pered with Yid­dish. Abby also con­nects ele­ments of Judaism to her events in her life and leans on them in dif­fi­cult times. For exam­ple, she con­sid­ers the impact that neglect­ing to hang a mezuzah may have had on Paul’s diag­no­sis and sub­se­quent­ly hopes that by aton­ing on Yom Kip­pur, Paul will get well.

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed, Abby, Tried and True is a beau­ti­ful­ly craft­ed nov­el that offers a real­is­tic look into an unfor­tu­nate­ly com­mon sce­nario that many fam­i­lies face. Read­ers will empathize with Abby, who is a kind, car­ing, and loy­al protagonist.

Jil­lian Bietz stud­ied library tech­nol­o­gy and research skills and cur­rent­ly works in the library sys­tem. She is a book review­er for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and Kirkus Review Indie. Jil­lian lives in South­ern California.

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