Seventeen-year-old New Yorker Hava Aaronson, a self-consciously observant Jew, is nonetheless unorthodox in many ways. She has spiked hair, loves punk culture, and punctuates her colorful, rebellious language with four-letter words (though she is reverently careful to refer to the Supreme Being as "G-d"). Her best friends are her confidant Ian, who is gay and not Jewish, and her platonic soul mate Moishe, who makes offbeat films and practices a kind of countercultural Orthodox Judaism. After a successful stint in a play, Hava is offered a lead role in a Hollywood sitcom about a caricatured American modern Orthodox Jewish family. She is immediately thrust into a world of make-believe and pretense, and spends the summer trying to sort out what is real and what isn't and what her religion means to her. Frequent visits from Ian and Moishe help to ground her, but most of her time is spent in a mixture of boredom, confusion, alienation, and often pointless (though sometimes humorous) rebellion. Hava tells her story in a vivid, funny, and distinguishable voice, but the narrative action is not sustained and her character development is not as clear as her barely controlled emotions and conflicted interior dialogues. Roth provides readers with an irreverent, insider look into two cultures and a portrait of a character trying to define herself in these very different environments.
–Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego (Amazon.com)