It’s a Whole Spiel Edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman Anthology Review

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Goodreads Review:

Get ready to fall in love, experience heartbreak, and discover the true meaning of identity in this poignant collection of short stories about Jewish teens, including entries by David Levithan, Nova Ren Suma, and more!

A Jewish boy falls in love with a fellow counselor at summer camp. A group of Jewish friends take the trip of a lifetime. A girl meets her new boyfriend’s family over Shabbat dinner. Two best friends put their friendship to the test over the course of a Friday night. A Jewish girl feels pressure to date the only Jewish boy in her grade. Hilarious pranks and disaster ensue at a crush’s Hanukkah party.

From stories of confronting their relationships with Judaism to rom-coms with a side of bagels and lox, It’s a Whole Spiel features one story after another that says yes, we are Jewish, but we are also queer, and disabled, and creative, and political, and adventurous, and anything we want to be. You will fall in love with this insightful, funny, and romantic Jewish anthology from a collection of diverse Jewish authors.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

I have a love-hate relationship with short-stories anthologies. On one hand it’s a great way to find new authors, get  more content from some of your favorite authors and read stories that all have a common theme. On the other hand, I’m not the biggest fan of short stories as there’s so little time for characters that are fleshed out and I so often finish the stories wishing there was more. That said when I read the PW announcement for this anthology nearly two years ago, I was ecstatic. Jewish rep that isn’t featured in a Holocaust book is so rare so to find out that an entire book with contemporaries stories that had Jewish characters was being published had me over the moon. While there were some stories that didn’t wow me as much as others, this anthology is so so important and I can’t wait for this to get into the hands of young Jewish teens. These stories feature all types of Jewish teens, demonstrating that there isn’t one single way to be Jewish. Below I have written mini reviews of each story along with my rating to give you a sense of what type of stories are featured in this glorious anthology.

Indoor Kids by Alex London

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I’ve been meaning to read Alex London’s books for the longest of times, and this short story made me wanted to read his longer works even more. It was an adorable story about a Jewish boy who’s working at a summer camp, and falls for a fellow Jewish boy camp counselor. Both of the characters were such nerds and I could have easily read an entire book about them.

Two Truths and an Oy by Delilah Adler

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This one was about a Orthodox Jewish girl who goes to an orientation weekend and has trouble fitting in. I really enjoyed this as it had a really nice writing style and I thought it was really interesting to see the MC struggle between staying true to herself and fitting in. I would’ve liked just a little more as the ending felt a little abrupt to me.

The Hold by David Levithan

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

This was a pretty solid story about this boy’s first love. David Levithan has always been an author that I enjoy, so this was a pretty good read. The one thing that really hindered my enjoyment of the story was that it kind of read like non-fiction. There was just something about it that didn’t feel like a short story( which might be the case) and that missing element made me not enjoy the story as much as I would have liked to.

Aftershocks by Rachel Lynn Solomon

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Honestly at this point, Rachel Lynn Solomon could publish her grocery list and I’d read it. She’s such a talented writer who is able to craft characters like no other. This story was about a girl who’s going to her boyfriend’s house for Shabbat. I loved seeing her insecurities over being “not jewish enough” being expressed and loved seeing her work these insecurities with her boyfriend. Also the chemistry between the two of them was so great and I’m just really sad that this was only a short story.

Good Shabbos by Goldy Moldavsky

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

This one just wasn’t for me.  The writing was weird and the plot was lacklustre. I had no idea what was going on for most of the story, and I just had a lot of trouble getting into it.

Jewbacca by Lance Rubin

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was a really fun one! It was about a boy who’s technically Jewish  but doesn’t really know much about his faith, but lies to his new girlfriend about just how Jewish he is There was this part where he goes over to his girlfriend’s family’s house and has to explain the story of Hannukah and he just starts making up some bullshit story

EI Ai 328 by Dana Schwartz

My Rating: 1.5 /5 Stars

I could not for the life of me tell you what the point/message behind this story was. I feel like the character was at the exact same as she was when the story started and it just felt  very pointless. The writing style was fine and the character wasn’t horrible, but there was just no development in the story and it ended super abruptly

Some Days You’re the Sidekick; Some Days You’re the Superhero by Katherine Locke.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was a really nice read! It was written in the style of a fanfiction post which was pretty cool as the story was about fandoms. The MC’s sibling uses they/them pronouns which was really nice. Overall, it was a very fun read.  The one thing that made me enjoy not as much was the big reveal of why the MC and his old friend weren’t talking. It didn’t seem as much of a big deal as he made it out to be, and what he did didn’t really seem worthy of them not talking for a year.

He Who Revives the Dead by Elie Lichtschein

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was a nice read about a girl overcoming her fear of water during a Birthright trip. It wasn’t anything special or memorable, but it was still very enjoyable. I really liked the group dynamic and the writing was concise. There was just missing a little spark for me to truly fall in love with it.

Be Brave and All by Laura Silverman

My Rating: 4.5/ 5 Stars

I love Laura Silverman’s books and this story just further proved to me how good of an author she is. It was such a great read and was basically about this girl who sneaks out with this guy to go to a gun reform protest. I could have honestly read an entire book about them, and I left the story wishing there was more.

Neilah by Hannah Moskowitz

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This was is  beautiful and lyrical and hit me right in the gut. This was about an anorexic girl who attends a Yom Kippur service with her girlfriend. The writing was so incredibly beautiful and though it was quite short, I really felt a connection to the main character. The writing style had a very minimalist feel to it, but was done in such a a masterful way that you were really able to feel the pain as though it was your own.

Find the River by Matthue Roth

My Rating: 2/5/5 Stars

This was another one that didn’t seem have to much point to it. There wasn’t anything special about the characters and the plot was pretty boring. Just overall very lacklustre and not that great.

Ajshara by Adi Alsaid

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This one had a little magical realism in it which was really fun. This story follows a Mexican teen who is able to see ghosts and he’s on his gap year and it’s just about all the fun he gets to have. There was a little too much telling for my taste but other than it was a good read and it was a nice break from the pure contemporary stories.

Twelve Frames by Nova Ren Suma

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This one had a really cool vibe to it. There was also a little magical realism as well, but it was a lot more subtle than the other ones. I don’t have much to say about this one because nothing really stuck out, but it was a still pretty decent read.

 

Have You Read Any Books Featuring Jewish Protagonists? Do You Want To Read It’s A Whole Spiel? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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