Review: How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moshav? What’s a moshav? Is it “shopping mall” in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I’d be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home.

Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, “moshav” is not Hebrew for “shopping mall.” Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci.

Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She’s got a serious grudge against her dad, a.k.a. “Sperm Donor,” for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he’s dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she’s never known, where she’ll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she’ll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom for seven people all summer—no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone…

After reading Perfect Chemistry and loving it I simply had to try some of Elkeles' other books. I chose this one to start as it had sequels already published. And I was not disappointed!

If you want a great summer read then this is perfect. It tells the story of Amy, an 'accident' of birth, an opinionated but thoroughly fun sixteen year old. She attends a posh school, her mother buys her designer clothes and she doesn't go anywhere without her cell phone. Enter her almost non-existent father, who's Israeli, and soon she's whisked away to Israel to meet her sick grandmother she's never met.

From the minute you pick up this book you get sucked into the story. Amy is fun, girly and speaks her mind. She's witty and intelligent. When she meets Avi, a sheep herder, on the communal farm her thoughts and emotions take an unsteady, unwanted turn. She hates him, he hates her. The other teenagers don't give her a break either and she's pretty much hating everything about her summer. But she soon learns to love her grandmother who is the only person to speak to her like a grown up.

The writing is fast paced, Amy is hilarious, Avi is gorgeous and the romance is gradual but effective.

A great read.

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