Margie Gelb­wass­er
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
Fif­teen-year-old Alyssa Bon­dar lives in a Russ­ian Jew­ish immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty in New Jer­sey where she is deal­ing with the typ­i­cal teenage issues of boys and pop­u­lar­i­ty along with the intense dif­fi­cul­ties of her mother’s alco­holism. Clean­ing her mom’s mess has become incon­ve­nient” and her dad is in denial about the prob­lem. The mes­sage of how a teenag­er can try to deal mature­ly with an alco­holic par­ent is well done. But while the nov­el is a seri­ous explo­ration of an immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty and of a family’s dynam­ics, the author gets bogged down deal­ing with Alyssa’s run of the mill high school prob­lems with boys and her desire to run with the pop­u­lar crowd. This nov­el is clear­ly writ­ten for old­er teen read­ers due to some scenes of sex­u­al­i­ty, such as when an evening sleep­over becomes an oppor­tu­ni­ty for Alyssa and her best friend to video­tape them­selves dressed up in lin­gerie. Descrip­tions of teenage drink­ing, mar­i­jua­na use and sex­u­al explo­ration may feel gra­tu­itu­ous to some read­ers. Ages 15 and up.
Hillary Zana has a BA and teach­ing cre­den­tial from Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. She was a day school librar­i­an for many years and has writ­ten many Hebrew text­books avail­able through Behrman House Pub­lish­ers. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Eng­lish and his­to­ry in the Los Ange­les pub­lic school sys­tem and is a Nation­al Cer­ti­fied teacher.

Discussion Questions