Fuses the mystical past with a teenager’s complicated present through a richly rendered world of Jewish prayer and ritual.

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THE PROPHETESS

Rachel doesn’t think of herself as an especially observant Jew, but when her 87-year-old Orthodox grandfather dies, her relationship to spirituality begins to shift.

Although her extended family practices Orthodox Judaism, Rachel’s mother became less observant when she met Rachel’s father, who is not religious. For Rachel and her older sister, Beth, a dedicated dancer, Judaism has not been their priority. The Baltimore high school student prioritizes her academics, writing poetry, and close female friendships. However, Rachel starts to experience visions—direct messages from G-d—and begins to uncover a mystical power deep within herself. After learning more about Judaism from Yonatan, an intense, charismatic stranger she meets at synagogue, Rachel starts to meditate, accessing her gifts more deeply until she goes to Israel, where she actualizes her powers. Toggling between Rachel’s daily life and her visions, this story exquisitely accomplishes a partnership between the divine and the quotidian. Debut author Marzouk integrates Jewish practice, philosophy, and mysticism into a complex yet accessible coming-of-age story. Though Rachel’s visions are described in less rich detail and language than her worldly life, the excitement over her realizing of her powers carries readers through the character-driven narrative.

Fuses the mystical past with a teenager’s complicated present through a richly rendered world of Jewish prayer and ritual. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61088-504-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A dizzying, intimate romance.

TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW

Rowan teams up with her academic nemesis to win a citywide scavenger hunt.

Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been rivals in a never-ending game of one-upmanship since freshman year. Now, on the last day of senior year, Rowan hopes to best Neil once and for all as valedictorian, then win Howl, a scavenger hunt with a $5,000 cash prize. She also hopes to sneak away to her favorite romance author’s book signing; no one’s ever respected her passion for the genre, not even her children’s book author/illustrator parents. But Rowan’s named salutatorian, and vengeful classmates plot to end her and Neil’s reign. At first their partnership is purely strategic, but as the pair traverse the city, they begin to open up. Rowan learns that Neil is Jewish too and can relate to both significant cultural touchstones and experiences of casual anti-Semitism. As much as Rowan tries to deny it, real feelings begin to bloom. Set against a lovingly evoked Seattle backdrop, Rowan and Neil’s relationship develops in an absorbing slow burn, with clever banter and the delicious tension of first love. Issues of class, anti-Semitism, and sex are discussed frankly. Readers will emerge just as obsessed with this love story as Rowan is with her beloved romance novels. Rowan’s mother is Russian Jewish and Mexican, and her father is American Jewish and presumably White; most other characters are White.

A dizzying, intimate romance. (author’s note) (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4024-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Evil that is impossibly difficult to comprehend and filled with word-images that will leave readers gasping. The author’s...

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WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS

Gerta didn’t know she was Jewish until she and her father were taken for transport by the Nazis.

When Bergen-Belsen is liberated, Gerta and the other survivors are ill, skeletal, dying, or sunk in madness, and they have no homes to which they can return. Relating the events that led her there, she tells of a seemingly carefree life in Würzburg with her musician father and German gentile stepmother, an opera singer who is also Gerta’s voice teacher. But they were living with false identification papers, and their lives become ever more withdrawn. She has fleeting visions of her early childhood in Köln, of her mother, and of Kristallnacht. The cattle-car journey to Theresienstadt is only the beginning of days, weeks, months, years filled with unspeakable horrors in the “intricacies of the Nazi web…the animalization of human souls.” Then comes Auschwitz, where her father is gassed, then Bergen-Belsen, typhus, and, finally, a kind of awakening to her own humanity. Later she covertly enters British-occupied Palestine, Eratz Yisrael, and builds a life there. Stamper spares readers nothing. Everything that Gerta witnesses or experiences really happened in the hell that was the Holocaust, including the further humiliations in its aftermath, a rarely told part of the story. The text is on pale, sepia-toned paper with dark, eerie illustrations in the same tones, reminiscent of real drawings produced by camp inmates.

Evil that is impossibly difficult to comprehend and filled with word-images that will leave readers gasping. The author’s dedication says it all, in both Hebrew and English: “Remember.” (author’s note, map, glossary, resources, acknowledgments; not seen) (Historical fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0038-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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