Title: It’s a Whole Spiel
Edited by: Laura Silverman and Katherine Locke
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: September 17th
Includes a special introduction by Mayim Bialik, star of The Big Bang Theory and author of the #1 bestseller Girling Up!
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.
Coming from authors like Dahlia Adler, Rachel Lynn Solomon, and Hannah Moskowitz, this anthology of short stories highlights highlights the lives of Jewish teens and their relationship with Judaism. I grew up in a very Jewish neighborhood, where all of my friends were Jewish, so I feel a kind of kinship and connection to the culture. By taking similar narratives, practices, and holidays, these authors produce some beautiful and unique, personal short stories.
“Indoor kids” by Alex London
This was really sweet, although it was a little info heavy that definitely could have been dialed down by just a little. Rating: 4/5
“Two Truths and an Oy” by Dahlia Adler
So lovely! This story shows the importance of finding your people, your crew and the dread of entering into new territory, with your people by your side. Rating: 5/5
“The Hold” by David Levithan
This was the only nonfiction piece and probably one of my favorites in the collection. You can practice aspects of Judaism without believing in God. Believing in tradition, what that represents and what it means to you: family togetherness, nice memories. Rating: 5/5
“Aftershocks” – Rachel Lynn Solomon
There is so much doubt in adolescence especially when it comes to dating. When you’re in the minority, there’s an unspoken thing that it’s expected to date within your group. Our main character questions whether her longtime crush and new boyfriend is he dating her because she’s the only other Jewish girl around? That questioning is so universal when applied to any given situation. Rating: 4/5
“Good Shabbos” by Goldy Moldavsky
I thought this was okay, but lacked depth. Interesting to learn more about Shabbat. I was not a fan of the footnotes—the author should have chosen to either do all funny quips, or strictly informational, not a mixture of both. Rating: 3/5
“Jewbacca” by Lance Rubin
I think in any religion or culture, there is such a wide range of intensity. There is Orthodox, Reformed, Social—so many levels and no one way is the right way. However for a teen, it can be very overwhelming, the pressures someone might feel not being Jewish “enough.” Rating: 3/5
“El Al 328” by Dana Schwartz
The expectations of a trip of a lifetime and the right of passage on Birthright trip. This was hauntingly beautiful while also leaving me completely heartbroken. Rating: 4/5
“Some Days You’re the Sidekick; Some Days You’re the Superhero” by Katherine Locke
I thought this story was sweet and while I loved the positive non-binary representation, I didn’t find this to be well-matched for this anthology. With the exception of Shabbat services, there wasn’t anything “Jewish” about it. It could have been in any other short story collection. Rating: 3/5
“He Who Revives the Dead” by Elie Lichtschein
There are a few Birthright stories in this collection, but they are all quite different, just like every person is going to experience Birthright different. This was a very positive and inspiring trip. Rating: 5/5
“Be Brave and All” by Laura Silverman
Beautiful! I could have read a whole book of these characters. Rating: 5/5
“Neilah” by Hannah Moskowitz
I was into this story for a little and then there was a very abrupt ending making the story feel very rushed and unfinished. Rating: 3/5
“Find the River” – Matthue Roth
A boy is finding his way through Judaism at the crossroads of socially Jewish and orthodox. Rating: 3/5
“Ajshara” by Aldi Alsaid
This was another story that I would have loved to have read an entire book. There was so much trying to be pushed together in he confinements of a short story. I also felt that this could have more of a Jewish focus, or just focus in general. Despite all that, I really loved this story about traveling, first love, and ghosts. Rating: 4/5
“Twelve Frames” – Nova Ren Suma
This was all about family history and being proud of who you are and where you come from. Recovering your past through the strength of Jewish women and creators. Rating: 5/5
I always find it difficult rating short story collections but I was so excited to get my hands on one of these ARCs. This is such a wonderful anthology that I think anyone can relate to and learn more about.
ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.