Recipe for Disaster

  • Review
By – January 10, 2022

Twelve-year-old Han­nah doesn’t real­ly con­sid­er her­self Jew­ish. Although she enjoys bak­ing tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish treats like rugelach with her broth­er and Grand­ma Mimi, she hasn’t giv­en much thought to the more reli­gious aspects of Judaism. But when her best friend Shi­ra has an event­ful Bat Mitz­vah, Hannah’s inter­est is piqued, and she decides that she’d like a Bat Mitz­vah, too. How­ev­er, Hannah’s active­ly sec­u­lar par­ents refuse her request. After Grand­ma Mimi takes Han­nah to see Aunt Yael, her mom’s estranged sis­ter and a rab­bi, for Bat Mitz­vah lessons, Han­nah begins to study in secret.

As ten­sions grow and fam­i­ly secrets threat­en to emerge, Han­nah learns that becom­ing a Bat Mitz­vah is more than hav­ing a par­ty or read­ing from the Torah. After moments of both loss and sur­prise, Hannah’s views shift. She dis­cov­ers that embrac­ing Jew­ish iden­ti­ty is very per­son­al and extends far beyond the walls of a synagogue.

The sto­ry offers thought-pro­vok­ing sen­ti­ments about iden­ti­ty and belong­ing. What exact­ly does it mean to be Jew­ish? What deter­mines what is Jew­ish enough? Is it blood? Fam­i­ly his­to­ry? Or some­thing else entire­ly? Recipe for Dis­as­ter is sure to open up a mean­ing­ful and rel­e­vant conversation.

The book incor­po­rates sup­ple­men­tal mate­ri­als such as hand­writ­ten recipes, Hebrew let­ter charts, and more. These cre­ative addi­tions enhance Hannah’s nar­ra­tive and offer extra lay­ers of insight into her world.

This is a thought­ful mid­dle grade nov­el that will enlight­en and inspire young readers.

Jil­lian Bietz stud­ied library tech­nol­o­gy and research skills and cur­rent­ly works in the library sys­tem. She is a book review­er for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and Kirkus Review Indie. Jil­lian lives in South­ern California.

Discussion Questions