INTENTIONS by Deborah Heiligman


Age Range: 12 - 18
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Shockingly, Rachel overhears her rabbi having sex in the sanctuary of her synagogue before confirmation class.

Unnerved and sickened, she doesn't know whom to tell. Recognition that a man she's always admired and trusted is imperfect, along with tension in her parents' marriage and  an impossibly wide chasm between herself and her friend Alexis, make Rachel's moral compass spin out of control. She lets the rabbi's bad-boy son, Adam, talk her into losing her "pot virginity." Her lifelong friend and current crush, Jake, saves her from making a spectacle of herself. Heiligman's ear for teen dialogue and situational humor is particularly keen here, as Rachel goes from thinking she's not stoned to a declaration that "pot = truth serum." When Rachel starts shoplifting with Alexis, Jake suggests that she follow Rabbi Cohn's advice and atone for her transgressions. "Rabbi Cohn? Fuck Rabbi Cohn! Jake! I heard him screwing someone on the bima. He's a terrible person!" Rachel's path to understanding what it means to act with intention winds through a brief stint as a tutor to a special needs boy, past revelations about her parents, and finally to forgiveness. Lessons learned, the plot wraps up a little too neatly. The story is framed by the adult Rachel looking back on the events.

A modestly daring coming-of-age tale with a (presumably) unintentionally preachy tone. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86861-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2012


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