David’s bar mitzvah is coming in six weeks. He is both Jewish and Chinese. His family is operating on a tight budget, but things are going well enough until his Jewish grandmother insists they have what she calls a “proper bar mitzvah.” The implications of this meddling exacerbates the stress of the coming event. Additionally, his Jewish and Chinese grandmothers have a difficult relationship and are constantly undercutting and sniping at each other.
Prickly peer relationships abound as well. David and his two best friends are going to participate in a trivial pursuit contest; they are inexperienced and a year younger than their leading competitors. David would also like to develop his relationship with a potential girlfriend but lacks the social skills to move forward. The book is set in 1984, a time when the nuclear threat from Russia was causing some families to build shelters to save themselves in case of attack. David and his friend Scott start to build a fallout shelter, excluding David’s oldest and most loyal friend Hector.
All of these plot threads culminate, of course, at the bar mitzvah.
Sure to hold a reader’s interest and filled with humor, the author emphasizes some important themes: don’t underestimate the support of your family; a loyal friend is an inclusive one; apologize when you’re wrong.
Boys in particular will like this one!
Recommended for ages 11 to 14.