Rachel Kamin is the Director of the Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois. A past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, Rachel is currently the co-editor of Book Reviews for Children & Teens for the Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter. She holds a BA in history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Michigan.
When Ruth Wasserman returns home to her small Alabama town after spending her freshman year at the University of Michigan, the first thing everyone notices is how skinny she looks. Hiding her anorexia from her family and friends while lifeguarding at the local pool is a big enough challenge but Ruth is also trying to figure out what’s going on with her older brother David, the once popular and sociable soccer star who now spends most of his time smoking pot and avoiding everyone. Ruth never felt like she fit in and always blamed her weight and being one of the few Jewish kids in her town. But, when an African-American girl nearly drowns while Ruth and David are lifeguarding, everything comes to a head and Ruth and David’s secrets are exposed. While Ruth’s eating disorder is perhaps the central theme, Fishman also throws in issues of race and religion, inter-faith dating, drug and alcohol abuse, and sibling relations. With a less skilled writer, all this could bog down a novel but Fishman achieves the right balance, and coupled with well developed, likable, and three-dimensional characters, the story stays focused and compelling. High school readers, especially girls, will be attracted to the cover-art and will easily relate to Ruth as a young woman struggling to figure out who she is and who she wants to become. Recommended for ages 15 and up.
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