Susan’s Book Talk: Help!


You guys know about me and my book club.

Well, one of the ladies in my club needs help. I’m coming up empty, so I thought I’d see what you guys have to say.

She is looking for a group of books written by a Jewish author, and dealing with Jewish themes — but they have to be age appropriate for a 13-year-old girl. Yep, this is going to be a Bat Mitzvah present.

I’m poring over Flashlight Worthy Books (for whom my own lists are long overdue. Eep!), and so far, all I’ve come up with is The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak’s hit novel.

What else would you suggest? They don’t have to be Holocaust-themed. In fact, the broader we can go, the better.

And… for my Thirteen this week, let’s see if we can make a list of 13 or more books!

I’ll update the list as you guys suggest and discuss in the comments. Thanks!

My friend Melisa suggested All-of-a-Kind Family, written by Sydney Taylor.

Laura from I’m Booking It suggested Chaim Potok, especially Zebra and Other Stories

Janet reminded me to think of the most obvious: The Diary of Anne Frank

Harriet says her daughter suggests some of the American Girl books. She suggested Lindsey, but there’s also Rebecca.

Jade at Brainripples suggested poet Tracy Koretsky. (Although Ms. Korestky herself isn’t so sure she’d be a good choice — read the comments!)

Susan Bearman dropped in with a ton of links. Ready?

The Skokie Public Library has a great-looking list. My own wishlist just grew when I looked this over!

Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic is another suggested read. My book club read this — and it’s also used in my local elementary school for the advanced readers who are pulled into a fifth-grade book club that’s led by one of our Gifted teachers. I know my friend’s aware of this one.

TK Welsh wrote The Unresolved (there’s no link at Thanks to Susan Bearman for the link!)

Avi is a very famous Jewish writer. I’ve got a copy of City of Light, City of Dark here, in fact.

Carol Matas specializes in Holocaust and WWII fiction for middle grades and young adults.

Julia suggested one of my all-time favorites, The River Midnight.

Now, THIS is cool. Tracy Koretsky (see above!) suggested a book, herself! It’s called Marcello in the Real World and was written by Francis Stork. I can’t find a link at Powells, so if you have any information…

And here’s a list from my friend Mari Blaser, whose blog I really need to add to the sidebar so I can find it to link to it properly… she was Tweeting for me and this is what she turned up:

Michele, @banana_the_poet : Mr Rosenblum Dreams in English/Mr Rosenblum’s List – by Natasha Solomons

Donna, @Donna_Carrick :every book by Sylvia Maultash Warsh, especially “Season Of Iron“. Not 100% sure ok for teen.

Lynette, @LynetteBenton: “Diary of Anne Frank” (note from me: link’s above)

Monica, @lil_monmon :”Number the Stars“, by Lois Lowry

J. Sterling @JSterlingS and @4evermore: “The Chosen“, by Chaim Potok.

Patricia recommended Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book. I’ve read this one; it might be too adult. But then again, it might not be…

Alice Rene popped up over at GoodReads to suggest her own memoir, Becoming Alice.

**As a reminder, the book links take you to, where I am an affiliate. Any pennies earned will be turned back to you guys in the form of books!



  1. Laura @ I'm Booking It

    April 28, 2010 12:10 pm

    I’d consider including one or more of Chaim Potok’s books. Which one in particular probably depends on the girl, although “Zebra and other stories” is aimed at a younger audience than his other work, I think.
    .-= Laura @ I’m Booking It´s last blog ..Review: The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King =-.

  2. Melisa

    April 28, 2010 12:12 pm

    Gawd, the only ones I can think of are from my childhood, and are no doubt very dated (but I LOVE THEM): the “All of a Kind Family” series, by Sydney Taylor.
    .-= Melisa´s last blog ..What Kind of Gift Should I Buy For A Bar or Bat Mitzvah?? (I’ll Tell You!) =-.

  3. Robin from Israel

    April 28, 2010 2:52 pm

    I just passed this along to a very well read rabbi friend. I’m sure she’ll have some good ideas for you :).
    .-= Robin from Israel´s last blog ..Bicycle Hire =-.

  4. Janet

    April 29, 2010 8:59 am

    only thing I can think of is Anne Frank!
    .-= Janet´s last blog ..What Is It Wednesday =-.

  5. Harriet

    April 29, 2010 9:57 am

    My daughter suggests Lindsey- she’s an American Girl doll with book. AG is a good place to start 🙂
    .-= Harriet´s last blog ..101 things you can do with what??? =-.

  6. Anthony North

    April 29, 2010 10:15 am

    I’m afraid I’m at a loss for this one. Sorry.
    .-= Anthony North´s last blog ..OLD =-.

  7. Alice Audrey

    April 29, 2010 12:02 pm

    You got me there. I didn’t even think of The Diary of Ann Frank.
    .-= Alice Audrey´s last blog ..Ah Maria, Stuck in the Middle with Who? =-.

  8. Jade Blackwater

    April 29, 2010 3:15 pm

    Hi Susan,

    I have a suggestion for you!

    I recently discovered writer/poet Tracy Koretsky when I happened upon her lovely poetry collection:

    Even Before My Own Name

    Please keep in mind, I’ve read samples of her poetry, but nothing more (so I can’t be held accountable for content or taste). However, based on the descriptions and the music of her poems, I think her other work might be a good fit:

    Ropeless by Tracy Koretsky

    Best wishes!


  9. Susan @ 2KoP

    April 29, 2010 6:45 pm

    Here’s a list of recommended Jewish-themed books for teens from the Skokie Public Library:

    The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolan is wonderful. Jane is Jewish and a prolific writer.

    Also, The Unresolved by T.K. Welsh

    Avi is a Jewish author. Here are his YA books:

    Carol Matas has written a lot of books about the Holocaust and many of her other books have Jewish themes:

    Good luck.
    .-= Susan @ 2KoP´s last blog ..A Dime a Dozen =-.

  10. Julia Smith

    April 29, 2010 8:42 pm

    Not sure if this is too adult for her, but how about The River Midnight by Lilian Nattel? A 19th century Polish shtetl is the main character, with layered stories following the villagers. There are various pregnancy issues, as one of the main characters is a midwife.
    .-= Julia Smith´s last blog ..Thursday Thirteen – 156 – 13 Sentence Spotlights Taken From Random Page 99’s =-.

  11. Tracy Koretsky

    April 29, 2010 10:22 pm

    I’d like to thank Jade Blackwater for bringing my books to your attention. How extremely generous! I do need to say however, that I am not sure my books are age-appropriate. ROPELESS,( while definitely Jewish-themed, features explicitly sexual scenes involving a man who uses a wheelchair. This was necessary to challenge prevailing cultural assumptions about such people.

    As for my poems, although they are accessible and would probably be understood by a thirteen year old, she would need to be a mature reader for her age. Many of the poems concern the death of my mother when I was about her age, but more concern the aftermath which was, to understate, difficult and morally fraught.

    At any rate, I invite you to see for yourself as I offer the collection as a free download as well as a perfect bound edition. Just go to http://www.Tracy and help yourself.

    I do have one book to add to the list though: Marcello in the Real World by Francis Stork. A young man on the high-functioning end of the Autism spectrum is forced by his father to work as a mail clerk at a law firm for a summer. He untangles a troubling cover-up with the help of many friends, including a rabbi with whom he has long philosophical discussions — a very thought-provoking book/

    Just as an fyi, this book was a candidate for a Dolly Gray Award for which I was a judge. The award seeks to honor books for the most “enlightened portrayal of a character with a developmental disability.” I wrote a little think-piece about this category of book. It was published here:

    Again, thanks Jade, and also Susan for giving me a chance to share a little of my work with you.

  12. Patricia

    April 30, 2010 12:22 pm

    I don’t know if the author is Jewish, but the book certainly is filled with many Jewish themes: “The People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks.
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Why I Don’t Discuss Religion or Politics in My Posts =-.

  13. Susan @ 2KoP

    May 1, 2010 9:31 pm

    The Unresolved by T.K. Welsh is available through some of the other big book sellers, but here is a link to her blog/Website:
    .-= Susan @ 2KoP´s last blog ..A Dime a Dozen =-.

  14. T.K. Welsh

    May 4, 2010 12:36 pm

    If you are thinking about THE UNRESOLVED for your book club, note that it will be available in softcover in a few days (vs. the rather expensive hard cover). It’s also going to be available as a Kindle title.

    Hope you enjoy it. And remember: If you want me to do a Skype reading or book conference with your club, I’d be happy to do it. See for details.

  15. susan

    May 4, 2010 2:28 pm

    Oh, thanks, TK. But this is for a member of my book club, not for us to read. We haven’t had a very good track record with YA lit — I’m leery of us reading The Book Thief for this reason.
    .-= susan´s last blog ..Walter Fiction: The Envelope Event =-.

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