Eddie What­ev­er

  • Review
By – March 3, 2022

Eddie Lewin, like many kids his age, is required to com­plete a mitz­vah project, a stint of com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice, dur­ing the year before his bar mitz­vah cer­e­mo­ny. Eddie is assigned to a senior cit­i­zens’ facil­i­ty and tasked with help­ing the elder­ly res­i­dents with their needs. He feels reluc­tant, uncom­fort­able, and awk­ward, but, as his rab­bi and par­ents have giv­en him no choice, he sets off to the Sil­ver Brook Pavil­ion in the hope that he can do the min­i­mum to pass his required hours and remain large­ly unnoticed.

Sil­ver Brook’s res­i­dents include a quirky cast of char­ac­ters, includ­ing some who are con­vinced that the facil­i­ty is haunt­ed. The staff mem­bers are not quite what Eddie expects either. A class­mate named Tes­sa is a fel­low vol­un­teer who has her own take on the dai­ly occur­rences at Sil­ver Brook. Most dis­turb­ing of all, a mys­te­ri­ous thief prowls the premis­es, com­pli­cat­ing Eddie’s life when Eddie becomes one of the prime sus­pects. He needs to prove his inno­cence, pre­serve his rep­u­ta­tion, and suc­cess­ful­ly com­plete his com­mit­ment before the rapid­ly approach­ing date of his bar mitzvah.

The mys­ter­ies at the senior cit­i­zen facil­i­ty deep­en as Eddie and Tes­sa attempt to get to the bot­tom of these unset­tling events. The mys­tery is engag­ing, but the char­ac­ter­i­za­tions are at the heart of this appeal­ing sto­ry of a young man who is begin­ning to mature and is con­tin­u­ing to learn about the world around him. As the sto­ry pro­gress­es, Eddie grows in sen­si­tiv­i­ty, deep­ens his under­stand­ing of oth­ers, devel­ops empa­thy, and learns to stand up for him­self. The mitz­vah project, just as it is designed to do, ben­e­fits not only the senior cit­i­zens in need of assistance,but also helps Eddie learn about the world around him and what he can con­tribute to it as a matur­ing young man.

With a hearty dash of humor and a healthy dose of com­mon sense, Lois Ruby presents read­ers with an amus­ing, yet sub­stan­tive, sto­ry that is both thought pro­vok­ing and fun.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions