Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin, #1) Moshav? What’s a moshav? Is it “shopping mall” in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I’d be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home. 
Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, “moshav” is not Hebrew for “shopping mall.” Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci. 
Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She’s got a serious grudge against her dad, a.k.a. “Sperm Donor,” for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he’s dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she’s never known, where she’ll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she’ll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom for seven people all summer—no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone… 
Goodbye pride—hello Israel.
My Review:
I have enjoyed all of  the other books by Simone Elkeles that I have read, so I was excited to start a new series by her.  And this book did not disappoint me.  It was a cute, light, and fun read overall, but it also had some more serious moments.


Amy's character started off as not very likeable, but her character grew a lot over the course of the novel.  She went into Israel with many preconceived notions about how much she was going to hate it there.  She was quite dramatic about some things, like mentioning how Israel is a war zone.  She didn't seem to realize that there were many people not involved in war living there as well.  I liked seeing how she changed as she got to know Safta, her grandmother, who was very kind to her.  I loved how, by the end of the book, she realized how much she really liked that summer.

There was a lot of family stuff going in the novel, and it was interesting to read about.  Before this summer, Amy had only seen her dad, Ron, once a year.  She doesn't really respect him, and she says some pretty bad things to him sometimes.  It was good to see their relationship change throughout the book as they began to care more about each other.  When Amy goes to Israel, she meets her cousin Osnat, though she mishears the name as O'snot, and Amy nicknames her Snotty.  They have a very strained relationship, and they are both mean to each other.  As the novel progresses, the reasons for Snotty being mean to Amy become clearer, and their relationship changes.  And I already mentioned the relationship between Amy and Safta, which I really liked.

There is a romance in this book, and, while the boy was sometimes sweet, he also did some that kept me from completely liking his character.  Before they started dating, Avi was actually quite mean to her.  There was a scene when he was in her bedroom while she was changing, and she didn't see him there, and he didn't say anything to let her know that he was there watching.  I think he should have been respectful and alerted her to his presence.  Ultimately, I'm not sure if I like them as a couple or not.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


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