Skip to main content

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles (2006), although very different than her fantastic Perfect Chemistry, doesn't disappoint.

Sixteen-year-old Amy Nelson is forced to leave Chicago for the summer to head to Israel with the father she refers to as "Sperm Donor" to meet her grandma and other paternal relatives for the very first time. And, yes, her existence is also very much a surprise to them.

Throw in the culture shock of being the American city girl, one who isn't even Jewish, learning about sheep, dealing with cousin rivalry, and meeting what has to be one of my favorite teen romance guys, Avi.

My one major complaint is a scene where Avi takes Amy to meet his Palestinian friend. Felt a little bit like a play on the old "some of my best friends are [fill in the blank]." "Well, the two of us are such close friends, so that means I can't be anti-Palestinian/he can't be anti-Semitic." Sort of a glossing over of the very real challenges in Israel, including even the existence of settlements like the one where Amy's family lives in the Golan Heights.

There aren't any easy answers in Israel, and I wish Elkeles had brought that forward in a more multi-dimensional way, attempting to really represent and address Palestinian-Israeli relations.

Otherwise, though, Amy is fun and engaging--if a bit shallow and, frankly, lazy (which doesn't play well on a kibbutz of all places), and watching her grow and change is wonderful. Best of all--her developing relationship with her father.

I already have the second and third books in the series in my TBR pile, so more soon about Amy.

My overall personal rating of How to Ruin a Summer Vacation is a B.


Popular posts from this blog

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

The May selection for my work book club is Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2002). The novel follows various individuals in one neighborhood on a particular day, an ordinary day that ends with a terrible tragedy.

Here's the short set of questions I e-mailed to book club members yesterday, along with my own responses.

Did you have a favorite character, or one that spoke to you the most? Who and why?
The father with the burned hands is the one who stayed with me the most after reading the book.

Did you notice that the day on which the events unfold is actually the same day that Diana, Princess of Wales, died? Does knowing that make any difference in how you see the story? I wouldn't have made the connection if I hadn't just watched some of the coverage of the Royal Wedding. To quote the author, he chose this particular day because his novel is about how ". . .everyday miracles of life and death go unwitnessed in favor of celebrity and sensati…

Current Little Pleasures

Girls' weekend in Omaha with Maya and her friend.

Happy Buddha:  Sweet Orange and Cedar Shower Foam from RITUALS

Time for iced or blended peppermint mochas.

Shopping for little gifts for Maya's Japanese pen pal.  They were matched through their schools, and we're hoping she can stay with us for a few days this summer.

The flock of wild turkeys, foxes, and other assorted wildlife entertaining us this fall.

Thanksgiving plans to visit my sister.

Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas is back!

Current Little Pleasures

Christmas Keepsake Week, July 14-23, filled with Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Sending Christmas (in July) cards with a Peace greeting to some of my favorite people.  Why not??

Scott Tube Free Toilet Paper--nothing to recycle.

Haagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream--always!

Baby Driver movie.

Seeing photos from my sisters and niece on Facebook during their Italy trip.  I can't imagine they will want to come back home!

What are your current little pleasures?