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HONEY AND ME by Meira Drazin Kirkus Star


by Meira Drazin

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-338-15543-3
Publisher: Scholastic

Best friends navigate relationship changes and inner growth as they enter middle school.

Modern Orthodox Jewish sixth grader Milla Bloom is thrilled when her best friend, Honey Wine, transfers to her school but struggles with jealousy and forming her own identity as she approaches her bat mitzvah. Being in school together creates tensions between the girls, especially when they choose the same topic for a speech competition. They must also write bat mitzvah speeches, and Milla admires the way Honey carves her own path (“where I see roadblocks, she sees different routes”), while she struggles to make choices that don’t always match what her mom wants for her. Choice is a strong theme not just for Milla, but for her mother, who gave up her career for her family but wasn’t able to have more children other than Milla and her little brother, Max. The need for approval and appreciation is also well developed, as is feeling connected and anchored to one’s culture and religion; in addition to her parents, Milla has strong support from her aunt and a teacher. The story’s structure is chronological, with sections named for major events in the Jewish calendar, emphasizing the way that Milla’s life is organized around them. The Blooms and the Wines are coded White; one of Honey’s younger brothers is autistic; a member of their shul is a Holocaust survivor.

Authentic, joyful, achingly real.

(Hebrew and Yiddish glossary, author’s note, list of Jewish festivals) (Fiction. 9-13)