The Life and Opin­ions of Amy Finawitz

Lau­ra Toffler-Corrie
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
Amy Finawitz, a con­sum­mate New York­er, great­ly miss­es her best friend, who has desert­ed her to spend their eighth grade school year in (gasp!) Kansas, leav­ing Amy with what she con­sid­ers to be the dorky kids as her only friends. When Amy’s con­fir­ma­tion teacher at Tem­ple Beth Shalom assigns stu­dents a jour­nal of an immi­grant who lived around the turn of the cen­tu­ry, she encour­ages them to trav­el around the city expe­ri­enc­ing places as through each immigrant’s eyes. Amy makes new friends who help her with this research: Miss Sophia, an adven­tur­ous retired librar­i­an, and Beryl, her reli­gious Hasidic nephew. Read­ers learn about the his­to­ry of New York City as Amy and her friends vis­it such places as the Immi­grant Muse­um and Coney Island. Anoth­er friend is added to this unusu­al group when Amy dis­cov­ers that the class hunk is some­times inse­cure despite his pop­u­lar­i­ty, and is a his­to­ry buff who enjoys help­ing her. Amy’s self-cen­tered world is fur­ther expand­ed when she meets Beryl’s warm, lov­ing fam­i­ly and begins to devel­op some under­stand­ing of Ortho­dox cus­toms. Amy is a plucky but not always lik­able hero­ine. Her read­ers will iden­ti­fy with the tri­als of mid­dleschool life and Amy’s efforts to become pop­u­lar. The dia­logue is humor­ous­ly writ­ten and much of it is pep­pered with Amy’s e‑mails and fun­ny cre­ative plays. Occa­sion­al­ly the author uses some dat­ed phras­es, i.e. don’t get your knick­ers in a twist.” But the sto­ry is note­wor­thy because it imparts such val­ues as the true mean­ing of friend­ship and the impor­tance of learn­ing about peo­ples’ dif­fer­ent Jew­ish lifestyles. The invit­ing cov­er com­bines with the cast of col­or­ful char­ac­ters and the val­ues impart­ed to make this a rec­om­mend­ed pur­chase. Ages 11 – 13.
Andrea David­son is the librar­i­an of The Tem­ple-Tifer­eth Israel in Beach­wood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and is a for­mer mem­ber of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards Com­mit­tee. She enjoys try­ing out the books she reviews on the kids at the Tem­ple and on her grandchildren.

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