"A Jewish teenager struggles to find something to believe in and keep his family together in the cultural confusion of modern-day Los Angeles"--
Zadoff (My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies) never quite balances the offbeat, twee, emotional, and religious elements of this story about a lie spun out of control. High school junior Sanskrit Aaron Zuckerman-he was named by his hippie mother, while his music-loving father named his sister, Sweet Caroline-is faced with yet another mandatory parent-teacher conference at Brentwood Jewish Academy that his mother has blown off. Spontaneously fibbing about a "terrible accident" keeping her away, Sanskrit finds his lie snowballing, causing stress at school even as his personal life falls apart. Sanskrit's mother has fallen in love with her guru; his best friend Herschel (formerly Sanskrit's co-conspirator in scoffing at overly religious Jews) has become the most devout student at school; and Judi Jacobs, the love of his life, won't pay Sanskrit any attention. Zadoff aces some of the core emotional moments surrounding Sanskrit's family and his friendship with Herschel, but too many of the school scenes feel forced and awkward, with thinly painted teachers and administrators mostly existing as one-shtick ponies. Ages 12-up. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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August 28, 2012
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