Pre­tend Plumber: An Adventure

  • Review
By – June 14, 2022

It’s almost sum­mer. Near­ly-four­teen-year-old Saras­sine plans to prac­tice her role in Twelfth Night with her best friend, Char­lus, who is tran­si­tion­ing to being female and asks to be called Jack­ie. Sarassine’s plans change when the clean­er at her par­ents’ rich LA home points to a loose tile. Soon it turns out the whole house has to be dis­man­tled by a scream­ing Israeli plumber, but her par­ents are nowhere to be found. If that weren’t enough, Sarassine’s angry grand­moth­er shows up, blam­ing her in a heavy Florid­i­an accent for every­thing and threat­en­ing to send her to a Jew­ish Wild Child Wilder­ness Camp.” Saras­sine and Jackie’s escape plan fails horribly.

Ham­mer uses framed notes instead of foot­notes. This is a great way to grab young read­ers’ atten­tion to terms such as Shab­bat, Bat and Bar Mitz­vah, or to rebuke Holo­caust deniers. More so, as they are writ­ten in Sarassine’s voice, they become an organ­ic part of the book.

Once Saras­sine embarks on her forced jour­ney, it becomes a won­der­ful adven­ture of self-dis­cov­ery. Equipped with Jackie’s old boy clothes, she becomes Sam, gets to explore life as a non-bina­ry per­son, and to meet peo­ple s/​he nev­er met in her pre­vi­ous, pro­tect­ed life. From this point on, Pre­tend Plumber is about rethink­ing points of view. It turns into a racy satire that makes the read­ers laugh, have fun but also con­sid­er con­ven­tions about gen­der, age, polit­i­cal view and every­thing else in life.

This book is about being open-mind­ed, open-heart­ed, and not being afraid of one’s emo­tions. At a cer­tain point Sam thinks: I’m some kind of some­thing pre­tend­ing to be a boy, when I’m not even exact­ly a girl, and I can’t make any­thing and I can only fix things for short term not for long term, and what the hell good is that?” This is just one exam­ple of the emo­tions that come up in the book, and they will change too, because Sarassine/​Sam changes, and it hap­pens fast. It’s an age of changes, and s/​he accepts those changes with humor, curios­i­ty and some­times fear. After all, they are part of the journey.

Dana G. Peleg is a Hebrew/​English author, poet and trans­la­tor. She received the 2018 Andresen Cer­tifi­cate of Hon­or for her trans­la­tion of Anna and the Swal­low Man by Gavriel Sav­it. Her orig­i­nal works and trans­la­tions appeared in Israeli pub­li­ca­tions, as well as the Porter Gulch Review and Asymptote.

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