Milla and her best friend, Honey, live next door to one another. Milla is delighted when she learns that Honey is transferring schools and will now be in her class. Both girls are Modern Orthodox — although one family’s observance is slightly stricter than the other — and their lifestyles revolve to a large extent around Shabbat, holidays, and traditions. Throughout the story, the two friends must navigate envy, competition, social stresses, family issues, the sudden death of a beloved teacher, sibling rivalries, parental relationships, and the special tensions and joys of the bat mitzvah year. They ultimately emerge more thoughtful and mature, their friendship tested and then deepened.
Honey and Me illustrates that Jewish observance can be important and meaningful while still leaving room for the daily dramas of preteen-and-teen life. Appreciation for family, community, and close friends is a hallmark of the story. Some readers will be familiar with this particular form of Jewish observance and will comfortably see themselves and their families portrayed; others will be introduced to a lifestyle with which they are unfamiliar. Both parties will come to appreciate how young people and their families can integrate Jewish life into the everyday.
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.