Amy is the product of a brief fling between her American mom and Israeli dad, and her relationship with her father has been minimal. He “ruins” her summer vacation by asking her to accompany him to Israel for the first time to meet her Safta (grandmother), who is gravely ill.
This somewhat sloppily written novel is remarkable mainly for its Israeli setting. Sixteen-year-old Amy is flighty, spoiled, and something of a know-it-all. Her sudden changes in emotion are difficult to follow, and her supposition that the Israelis see her as a “spoiled American bitch” seems justified. Most of her time in Israel is spent either in teenage resentments or in the ravages of a strong crush. While this may be realistic for someone her age, it means that the setting fails to live up to its potential. Amy is not articulate enough to bring the country to life for readers, and the few scenes in which she does learn something substantial seem forced, such as her visits to Masada or to meet her boyfriend’s Palestinian buddy. Her Israeli friends and family also fail to come to life as real people. Amy’s final embracing of Judaism seems more a way of holding onto a fun summer than a true spiritual decision. Flawed but well meaning, this easy read will probably be popular with young adult readers. While it falls short in many ways, it is a nice change to see light “chick lit” taking place in a positively portrayed Israeli setting.
“PG-13” for language and some sexual references. Ages 13 and up.