Libby’s family has just moved to Los Angeles, and she is having a difficult time adjusting to her new home. Her father is always working, her mother is busy with her writing, her older sister is doing whatever it takes to be popular, and her younger sister is being cared for by a maid. Lending a helping hand to another girl, Rebecca, at the neighborhood ice cream shop quickly leads to a friendship with significant effect on Libby’s family. Libby’s relationship with Rebecca, who is Orthodox, prompts Libby to explore Jewish observance, to the dismay of her parents. Only after long-buried secrets are revealed does Libby’s family seem to move toward accepting her desire to keep kosher and observe Shabbat. This revision of a 20-year-old novel still captures the pain of a girl who feels adrift and her joy at having the opportunity to explore the Judaism her parents suppressed for so many years. Rebecca’s family shows her the warmth lacking in her own home and models the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim (welcoming guests) for Libby and the reader. Their patient answers to her many questions may help readers understand more about Judaism along with Libby. Includes a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms. Grades 5 – 8.
Marci Lavine Bloch earned her MLS from the University of Maryland, a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in English Literature from Fordham University. She has worked in synagogue and day school libraries and is currently finishing her term on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.