February 26, 2013
Rachel’s once happily married parents are fighting all the time. Her once best friend, Alexis, is remote and unfriendly. And when Rachel turns for guidance to Rabbi Cohn, a role model and someone she’s always considered just about perfect, she is shattered to overhear him having sex IN THE SYNAGOGUE SANCTUARY with a woman who is not his wife. Rachel’s world crashes down around her and she spins out of control, making bad decisions and doing things she’d never have thought herself capable of (think drugs and sex). Heiligman has a pitch-perfect ear for teenage conversation (both internal and external), from its angst to its cynicism and black humor, and the teenage characters in the novel are particularly richly drawn. Their volatile, hormone-driven seesawing feels authentic. But at the book’s end, everything is prettily tied up (doubly so in an epilogue which takes place years later) — making for an unrealistically neat resolution. Readers may feel underestimated by the author’s wish to make everything right again. Recommended for ages 14 and up.