I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Two Wrong Halves of Ruby Taylor by Amanda Panitch
Published by Roaring Brook Press on August 9, 2022
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Fairy Tales & Folklore / General, Juvenile Fiction / Family / Multigenerational, Juvenile Fiction / Religious / Jewish
Format: ARC, eBook
Funny and poignant, Amanda Panitch's new middle-grade novel The Two Wrong Halves of Ruby Taylor is an exploration of mixed families, identity, hundred-year-old curses, and the terrifying challenge of standing up for yourself against your loved ones.
Of her two granddaughters, Grandma Yvette clearly prefers Ruby Taylor's perfect—and perfectly Jewish—cousin, Sarah. They do everything together, including bake cookies and have secret sleep overs that Ruby isn't invited to. Twelve-year-old Ruby suspects Grandma Yvette doesn't think she's Jewish enough. The Jewish religion is matrilineal, which means it's passed down from mother to child, and unlike Sarah, Ruby’s mother isn’t Jewish.
But when Sarah starts acting out--trading in her skirts and cardigans for ripped jeans and stained t-shirts, getting in trouble at school--Ruby can’t help but be somewhat pleased. Then Sarah suddenly takes things too far, and Ruby is convinced Sarah is possessed by a dybbuk, an evil spirit... that Ruby may or may not have accidentally released from Grandma Yvette's basement. Ruby is determined to save her cousin, but a dybbuk can only be expelled by a "pious Jew." If Ruby isn't Jewish enough for her own grandmother, how can she possibly be Jewish enough to fight a dybbuk?
Amanda Panitch writes with a humorous, irresistible, and authentic voice. This character-driven story with a magic twist about speaking up and finding your place in the world is for fans of Erin Entrada Kelly, Stacey McAnulty, and Greg Howard.
This fantastic book for middle-graders examines traditions and how they are important and also important to break, Being Jewish and Also Not Jewish Enough, and how difficult family can be. I loved this book; it’s a good addition to any middle-grade library. Five stars.