“I am so full of questions, I’m going to burst.” So declares 11-year-old Genie Zeiger in this candid memoir of growing up in Queens in the 1950s. As she struggles to make sense of the world, Genie often feels that she has no one to turn to. Her mother encourages her to “do something constructive,” her father is distracted, her little sister is too young to understand, and God certainly doesn’t seem to be listening. An aspiring writer, Genie finds solace in books borrowed from the library, but these too often open the door to more questions. After reading and re-reading The Diary of Anne Frank, Genie wonders why her parents have never told her about the Holocaust, and how God could have allowed it to happen. At the same time, like many preteen girls, Genie is also preoccupied with thoughts of friends, school, and boys. Though somewhat scattered and choppy at times, Genie’s voice is funny and upbeat, and propels the reader along at a brisk pace. Modern teens will identify with Genie’s search for answers to life’s questions, and adult readers — especially those who came of age in the 1950s — will enjoy a trip down memory lane. Ages 10 and up.
Alison Kelly holds a B.A. in American History from Northwestern University and an MLS from UCLA. She is a librarian at Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School.