Plot Summary: 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…
I read this book after seeing the book trailer, which was both hilarious and effective – I would ordinarily pass up a book like this, but the trailer made me stop and pick it up.
Last week, I went through my bookshelves looking for books to donate to my local library for their book sale, when I came across HOW TO RUIN A SUMMER VACATION. I settled down to read it again, enjoyed it just as much as the first time around, then tucked it back on to the shelf.
I’m not a big fan of stories about typical, spoiled teenagers. Especially the ones who plan their summers around shopping, flirting, cell phones, etc. But take one and drop her in Israel for the summer? *rubbing hands together* Now we're talking!
The story starts with Amy’s teenage complaints – how frustrated she is that her father isn’t a bigger part of her life, yet she does nothing to help him become more. Things like that. Then her father calls and says her grandmother, who lives in Israel and who Amy has never met, is sick. He is going to spend the summer visiting her, and wants to bring Amy along.
You can probably guess what happens next. Instead of seeing this trip as a chance to get what she wants – a chance for her father to become more than what he’s been all these years – she complains. Of course she does! That’s what self-absorbed teenagers do! "I want this, but not like that." *huff* "I want that, but not that way." Ms. Elkeles really has a handle on these kinds of teenage girls! :)
So, Amy is scooped up, deposited on a plane, and lands in a moshav in Israel. Here, she meets family members for the first time, and these people are nothing like her. They don’t live in air conditioned luxury, they care for sheep, there are smelly dogs everywhere, and they are strong from the manual labor they do to survive. There are two in particular, Avi and Osnat, who make her visit difficult. It’s through these difficulties that Amy begins to do some soul searching, and finds a part of herself that she didn’t know existed. All it took was to drop her in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers, and voila! A deeper, stronger Amy emerges with a whole new family to support her.
A really good, fun, and hilarious read. Two thumbs up.