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Review: How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Llewellyn (October 8th, 2006)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 234 pages
Series: How to Ruin #1
Rating: 5 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…
Goodbye pride—hello Israel.


You know how sometimes you put off reading something then think WHY didn't I read this sooner? Yes, this is one of those books. I should have known I'd love it since I've enjoyed every other book Simone has written. Somehow I know she could write a pamphlet on vegetables and somehow make it funny and interesting.

I do admit, the summary doesn't even come close to really telling what this story is about. I have never read a book set in Israel so I was a little worried it would be a bit of a shock, but Simone captured the setting brilliantly. Amy is somewhat forced to spend the summer with her father"AKA Sperm Donor" and meet his Israeli family. She does not look forward to this in the least. Then once she arrives in Israel she really gets a huge culture shock. She has no idea what anyone is saying or what to think of the family she never knew existed.

Then she meets Avi and a few of his friends. Plus, a cousin who does not want to welcome her to their home with open arms. I gotta say, Simone is creative with names. Cousin O'Snot, and her friends (Doo-Doo included). Hilarious!

Amy is a fun character. She's not nice or one to walk away from a fight. This made her great IMO because a lot of YA characters fall flat but Amy did not, at all! She could be cruel but at least she had a strong personality.

Her relationship with Avi is very love/hate. Avi knows how to push her buttons and he seems to enjoy it. But Amy really learns how to survive by watching him and his friends. They are hard workers and very loyal to each other. She really gets a good idea of how people can live with very little and still have a good time. This experience also gives her a chance to get to know her sick grandmother. It was nice to see Amy's true self come forward whenever she spoke with her grandmother.

After reading How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, I immediately read the next book, How to Ruin My Teenage Life and purchased book 3, How to Ruin My Boyfriend's Reputation. It was that good! I have learned never to doubt the powers of Simone Elkeles and her epic writing skills.

Recommended: Contemporary fans looking for something hilarious!

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