Book Review : How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin, #1)
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by
Paperback, 234 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Flux
Available on Amazon / Barnes & Noble


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.

It's an open secret that I adore Simone Elkeles' writing. How to Ruin a Summer Vacation is a great start for her How To Ruin series. This book is sorta like a chick-lit, but infused with humour, sarcasm and wit. In this book, our protagonist Amy Nelson is sent to Israel because her grandmother on her father's side is terribly ill and her father (whom she dubs as the Sperm Donor) insists that she visits Israel for the Summer.

Amy initially resists going to Israel, but she has no choice - she goes there anyway. She hates her father for being absent in her life for so long, and her words are always filled with venom. She cannot understand how her father gave up on her and her mother so easily. When her father tells her that his family doesn't even know of her existence, she feels so angry and sad that she bursts into tears.

However, after spending more time with her new family, she learns to accept the differences in Israelite and American culture. She learns to live in harmony with her new family members, taste the sweetness of a blossoming romance and rediscovers another part of her heritage which she has denied all these while.

This is a book about love, family and acceptance.

This is a book which teens will gladly devour.

Rating: 5
Simone was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and then Loyola University-Chicago where she earned a Master’s of Science in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees. In her spare time she’s a hockey mom and an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors.

3 creative remarks:

Heather said...

I love books that take me somewhere I haven't been. And this one sounds like an excellent read. Thanks for the recommendation!

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Shannon Duffy said...

Sounds interesting! Thanks for posting the review. I'll have to check it out.