Issues around modern Judaism, feminist autonomy, and mental illness intersect in this coming-of-age novel. Sixteen-year-old Sydney tries to hide her anxiety and depression, which she refers to as “the fog,” because she doesn’t want to worry her loved ones. She rationalizes her struggles, believing that she can handle them just fine―despite the fact that it has become difficult to get through the day and that she would prefer to hide in her closet or bike around her hometown of Vancouver.
Sydney is baffled when she is pursued by her lab partner, Paul. He instigates a relationship by text messaging her nature photos. As she struggles to push aside her anxiety, Sydney is also overwhelmed by the spirited happenings in her household. Her mother has recently decided to revitalize their Jewish traditions, and begins planning a musical Passover Seder, while her outspoken sister Abby passionately attempts to put on a version of TheVagina Monologues at school. Although this idea initially horrifies the introverted Sydney, the play eventually helps her reevaluate what it means to be female in the world.
Sydney’s struggles and battle against “the fog” are palpable; she is a curious, smart and self-aware protagonist. Author Leanne Lieberman also excels at depicting Sydney’s close relationship with her cantankerous grandfather, Zeyda, who is dealing with his own grief and an attachment to bygone traditions (especially as his family attempts to construct a non-traditional Passover Seder). As Sydney’s relationship with Paul progresses, she finds herself sinking deeper into “the fog.” However, she is able to seek professional help and, with the support of her family and close friends, learns to hope for small steps of progress.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.