It’s Hot and Cold in Miami

Nicole Rubel
  • Review
By – April 2, 2012
Nicole Rubel, a twin and author of Twice as Nice, an infor­ma­tion­al book about twins, here fic­tion­al­izes the down­side of being a iden­ti­cal twin and ups the ante by plac­ing the girls into an unsup­port­ive Jew­ish fam­i­ly envi­ron­ment. Though the author has pro­vid­ed dis­tinc­tive­ly quirky illus­tra­tions and numer­ous fun­ny, though stereo-typ­ic, eccen­tric­i­ties of Rachel’s extend­ed fam­i­ly, we expe­ri­ence through Rachel’s eyes one vignette after anoth­er in which adults feed her feel­ings of inad­e­qua­cy and fail­ure. No won­der she sus­pects her aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly gift­ed twin Rebec­ca of pre­na­tal­ly steal­ing more than her share of brain. Of course, it doesn’t help to have a gor­geous, recur­rent­ly rude and depres­sive moth­er who’s obsessed with Rachel’s weight; grand­par­ents who relate to her chiefly through food; a trav­el­ing sales­man father who’s most­ly away; an abu­sive­ly crit­i­cal fifth grade teacher; and anti-Semit­ic neigh­bors. When Rachel’s own unique artis­tic tal­ents are rec­og­nized, first by a per­cep­tive teacher in her Hebrew School, and then by a sup­port­ive sub­sti­tute teacher who replaces ancient Miss Bunker, she final­ly begins to over­come her feel­ings of defeat and resolve her rela­tion­ships with­in the fam­i­ly. This Florid­i­an ver­sion of Amer­i­can- Jew­ish envi­ron­ment and the wry­ly humor­ous angst of Rachel’s self-crit­i­cism may be enter­tain­ing and famil­iar to some young read­ers, although those look­ing for books with more tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish val­ues should look else­where. For ages 9 – 11.
Rita Berman Frisch­er was direc­tor of Sinai Tem­ple Blu­men­thal Library for twen­ty years. She has served as a judge for chil­dren’s books awards, writ­ten chap­ters on chil­dren’s book for var­i­ous bib­li­o­graph­ic works and is a fre­quent review­er for Jew­ish peri­od­i­cals and newspapers.

Discussion Questions