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How to Ruin a Summer Vacation    by Simone Elkeles order for
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation
by Simone Elkeles
Order:  USA  Can
Flux, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Two college students get together for one night and Amy Nelson Barak is the result. Now sixteen years later, Amy's dad wants to take her to Israel to meet her grandmother. Amy only hears from her dad once a year on her birthday and didn't even know she had a living grandmother. She would have said 'no thanks,' but her mother steps in and before she knows it she is on a flight to Tel Aviv instead of tennis camp.

Once there they drive to the moshav, a close knit community, where Amy's aunt, uncle, cousins, and Safia, her grandmother live. Her grandmother touches her heart from the beginning. Unfortunately, she and her cousin, Osnat, with whom she must share a bedroom, dislike each other at first glance.

The moshav raises sheep which is strange to a city girl. Amy has never had a pet so even the dogs are frightening. Since she has no attachment to her dad or his family, she can't understand why she should help out with the chores. Besides she doesn't know how and hates to admit when she is ignorant. She is also a sucker for dares so things that she normally wouldn't try become competitions.

Other young members of the moshav are more accepting of Amy and, despite the language and cultural differences, Amy makes friends. Only Avi, a gorgeous looking guy and a friend of Amy's cousin, eludes her.

Amy's summer vacation is different from anything she ever dreamed and she wouldn't trade it for all the tennis camps in the world. All she has to do is open her mind and her heart.

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