As Passover approaches, eleven-year-old Rebecca writes letters to the prophet Elijah as she struggles to cope with her father's illness and her own emotions about Judaism and life.
"Gr. 4-6. Using the Passover holiday not only as a setting, but also as symbol, this story, told in diary form, chronicles 11-year-old Rebecca Samuelson's life after her father's heart attack. Rebecca decides to address her diary to Elijah, the Old Testament prophet, who, legend has it, visits Jewish houses at Passover. To "E" (as she calls him), Rebecca confides her fears for her father, her soul-searching about her own life, and lots and lots of details about Passover. While some may assume this is primarily for a Jewish audience, plenty of Jewish kids will be nearly ignorant of some of the religious Samuelsons' preparations for the holiday. A glossary helpfully defines terms, but readers may not expect one and so miss it until they've finished the book. The story is at its best when Rebecca gets to the truth about what life is for a kid and when she muses about religion, both her own and others. There are certainly too few books that deal with that topic. But the diary format, especially when it's cutesy, can get tedious, and Passover, with all its preparations, seems a long time coming. --Ilene Cooper"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Confused and distraught after a heart attack lands her father in the hospital, 12-year-old Rebecca begins writing to Elijah, the biblical prophet. Rebecca's father may not be home in time for Passover, but Rebecca can count on Elijah to be there, at the place traditionally set for him at the seder table. Unfortunately, Rebecca never becomes a flesh-and-blood character, and her correspondence with Elijah sometimes seems like the effort of an ambitious religious school teacher: ``You decided to have a big contest with the priests of Baal to prove who was worshipping the true God. That must have been some contest. You against four hundred prophets. Guess who won? (I bet you harty-harred about that one.)'' Without a convincing narrator, Bat-Ami's (When the Frost Is Gone) portrayal of a religious Jewish family lacks focus. The open ending, which leaves Rebecca's deteriorating father on the operating table, his prognosis unknown, might disturb readers in the targeted age range-that is, if they care enough about these shadowy figures' fates. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved