This novel explores the adolescent angst and social dynamics of middle school students. Stacy Friedman and her best friend Lydia can’t wait to return to school after summer camp to show-off their fabulous makeovers. The real surprise is that their best friend Kelly is now a member of the super cool group, the Chicas. When popular Eben Seigler hands out his bar mitzvah invitations, Stacy and Lydia are left out. Initially it doesn’t make sense that these girls would be so devastated about being excluded, since they don’t really know him. But the emotions of teenagers don’t always make sense. The loss that Stacy and Lydia feel is a response to their friend Kelly moving on — and going to the bar mitzvah without them. They plot to win back their best friend and make their way to Eben’s bar miztvah — without an invitation. The story is told with humor, which is at times laugh out loud funny. Stacy, the main character, is gutsy, funny, and vulnerable. The negative implications of overly indulgent Bar Mitzvah parties is clear without being overly didactic to young readers. In the end, Stacy relies on the wisdom of the lessons she learns from her Rabbi, which nicely balances the extravagant bar mitzvah scenes. Stacy and Lydia are typical teenagers with a realistic and positive Jewish identity. For ages 10 – 12.
Bill Brennan is an independent scholar and entertainer based in Las Vegas. Brennan has taught literature and the humanities at Princeton and The University of Chicago. He holds degrees from Yale, Princeton, and Northwestern.