About the Book
For ages 11 to 14.
A busy young girl struggles to understand her Jewish identity and balance the demands on her everyday life.
Alyssa has become an adult, according to Judaism; since she has completed her Bat Mitzvah, she is expected to make her own decisions. And, instead of joining the temple’s confirmation class, concentrating on schoolwork or socializing with friends, Alyssa chooses to pursue her dance lessons. Her priorities shift, however, when her best friend Ellen becomes ill, and when Alyssa’s Jewish identity becomes more important to her. Alyssa realizes that a delicate balance between avocation and responsibility can exist if she is strong enough to make difficult decisions. Readers will enjoy the universal conflicts Wolff eloquently delineates; her characters are well realized and lend additional credibility to the story.
Alyssa struggles with the need to examine personal priorities and commitments. Guided by Jewish precepts, she is able to make some serious decisions. The suburban middle-class setting provides a sturdy anchor for this story. Rabbi Pearlman is exemplary; he works well with teens and is able to empathize and discuss problems with them in a realistic yet good-humored manner. . . . . Alyssa is a wholesome teen who deals with her problems in a mature and thoughtful manner. The fact that the demands on Alyssa are placed within a Jewish context will not limit general reader interest. Touches of humor throughout provide a nice counterpoint to the realistic problems.
—School Library Journal