Intentions

by Deborah Heiligman

Fifteen-year-old Rachel overhears her rabbi—a man for whom she has respect... read more

Fifteen-year-old Rachel overhears her rabbi—a man for whom she has respect and appreciation—having sex in the synagogue with a woman he’s counseling. Rachel is devastated, and her sudden cynicism is compounded by the fact that her parents’ marriage seems to be foundering. Struggling with feelings of anger and isolation—her best friend has grown more and more distant—she finds herself thinking about the Jewish principle of “intent” and its relationship to behavior. The irony is that Rachel makes several stunningly bad decisions of her own and then tries to avoid the consequences, even as she continues to judge others. She’s even torn between two boys who seem to represent the good (Jake) and the bad (Adam), although she discovers they, like everything else, can’t be so easily labeled. Rachel is vividly believable, from her language, which often spirals into profanity, to her questionable decision-making, to her inconsistent ability to see beyond herself. But she is also generally well-intentioned, and her poor decision-making exists side by side with thoughtful and courageous acts. Deborah Heiligman’s novel has plenty of drama but it’s also funny—surprisingly so at times—and this, too, as Rachel discovers, is part of what life can deliver. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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