STRANGE RELATIONS by Sonia Levitin

STRANGE RELATIONS

Age Range: 12 - 15
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Marne, a 15-year-old girl from a nominally Jewish home, spends a summer in Hawaii with her mother’s sister, now a Chasidic Jew, and her deeply religious family. Marne wants to visit—not because of an interest in Judaism, but because her best friend will be vacationing nearby. Though the story has a fish-out-of-water setup, it is also a thoughtful look at competing value systems. Good-time materialism, as personified by Marne’s best friend and her family, is juxtaposed with the values of Marne’s strange relations, who have a more spiritual take on the universe. Levitin’s gift—her ability to catapult the reader into another world—is on full display here, offering a vivid sense of the rhythm and texture of Chasidic life. The character of the aunt is particularly dexterous, a complicated woman whose gung-ho enthusiasm for her new life is simultaneously her biggest asset and greatest flaw. The chronicle of Marne’s kidnapped sister, which has left her family emotionally paralyzed, never feels integral to the rest of the story, and the romantic healing of Marne’s parents is hard to buy. Still, these are minor quibbles in a transporting experience. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: June 12th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-375-83751-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2007




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