The Truth About Leaving

  • Review
By – December 31, 2018

Lucy’s per­fect life is falling apart. Her boyfriend has dumped her; her moth­er is across the coun­try pur­su­ing her new job; Lucy is now respon­si­ble for help­ing her over­worked dad take care of her younger broth­ers; and, to top it all off, she is a high school senior wor­ried about the loom­ing dead­line for col­lege appli­ca­tions. Faced with all this pres­sure, she feels she has no life of her own and has put aside her life-long pas­sion and tal­ent for dance. Then, in a sud­den burst of fate, Lucy man­ages to lit­er­al­ly crash into Dov, a new senior who has just arrived from Israel. Dov seems sullen, and it looks like he’s hap­py stay­ing that way. Lucy, fresh from her life-shat­ter­ing break-up, wants noth­ing to do with him. After all, any rela­tion­ship would be short-lived, since Dov is adamant about return­ing to Israel to join the army at the end of the school year. He strug­gles with feel­ings of hon­or and pride and car­ries a heavy fam­i­ly bur­den of his own: the death of his broth­er in an auto­mo­bile acci­dent a year ago. Caught up in her per­son­al emo­tion­al roller-coast­er, Lucy tries to ignore the grow­ing attrac­tion pulling them togeth­er. As their friend­ship reluc­tant­ly grows stronger, Dov helps Lucy find her­self. She returns to the danc­ing she loves, stands up for per­son­al space with­in her fam­i­ly, and begins to care about her future in a more thought­ful and seri­ous way. Now, for their rela­tion­ship to sur­vive, Lucy must pull Dov out of the tight­ly woven cocoon in which he’s wrapped himself.

This is a book about choic­es. Senior year of high school is often a dif­fi­cult and stress­ful time, and when fam­i­ly issues con­flict with the free­dom to choose the next step in life, the process can feel over­whelm­ing. Lucy makes an unex­pect­ed and cre­ative choice at the sto­ry’s end, one that demon­strates her grow­ing matu­ri­ty and sat­is­fies her on every level.

Although the sto­ry is set in the Unit­ed States, there is a clear focus on Israel, both what it means to Lucy based on her fam­i­ly his­to­ry, as well as Dov’s deter­mi­na­tion to join the Israeli army — a manda­to­ry rite of pas­sage for all Israeli teens — in spite of his par­ents’ under­stand­able fears. He is proud of being an Israeli and wants to serve his coun­try like his peers.

Read­ers will iden­ti­fy with Lucy and the tur­moil of feel­ing like your life is con­trolled by every­one else. The char­ac­ters are well-round­ed and have depth, notably, in addi­tion to the pro­tag­o­nists, Lucy’s grand­moth­er, an ener­getic senior cit­i­zen with a wife. This grand­moth­er gives Lucy wise advice and helps ground her when her com­pli­cat­ed life seems bare­ly man­age­able. The high school world is expert­ly craft­ed and will feel famil­iar to read­ers, who will be hooked from the first few pages and reeled into the dra­ma right along with Lucy, Dov, and their families.

Mar­cia Ber­neger is a retired teacher who lives with her hus­band and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and sec­ond grade, as well as spe­cial edu­ca­tion. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Torah school, in addi­tion to her vol­un­teer work in class­rooms, libraries, and with var­i­ous fundrais­ers. She lives in San Diego.

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