NEW BEGINNINGS by Chaya Baila Weinfeld


Age Range: 10 - 13
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Having lost her mother to cancer several years before, a young woman finds herself unexpectedly aloft in new surroundings, attempting to untangle her family’s past. Rina Berger is separated from her beloved younger sister, and sent from her aunt’s overcrowded midwestern household to live with an older couple, the Steins, in a posh Long Island suburb. It’s a discomfiting change that comes with a grandiosely redecorated bedroom, a fancy wardrobe, and rigid expectations regarding her deportment and academic achievements. Alternating between rebelling against and trying to make the best of her new life, Rina braves the wrath of her strict guardians by joining a library (reading a novel is grounds for punishment, she learns); tutoring a fellow student who is slower, fatter, and poorer; inviting her entire class from Bais Yaakov High School For Girls to a sleepover; and ultimately unraveling the tangled relationship between the Steins and her family. A glossary complements Rina’s first-person narration, which fairly dances with Hebrew and Yiddish words and expressions (“I washed negel vasser and said Modeh Ani, including a special little tefillah that things would go right for me”). A heartfelt story that is more than carried by its plot and characters. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-880582-46-5
Page count: 271pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1999