ARC Review: It’s A Whole Spiel Edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman

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A Jewish boy falls in love with a fellow counselor at summer camp. A group of Jewish friends take the trip of a lifetime. A girl meets her new boyfriend’s family over Shabbat dinner. Two best friends put their friendship to the test over the course of a Friday night. A Jewish girl feels pressure to date the only Jewish boy in her grade. Hilarious pranks and disaster ensue at a crush’s Hanukkah party.
From stories of confronting their relationships with Judaism to rom-coms with a side of bagels and lox, It’s a Whole Spiel features one story after another that says yes, we are Jewish, but we are also queer, and disabled, and creative, and political, and adventurous, and anything we want to be. You will fall in love with this insightful, funny, and romantic Jewish anthology from a collection of diverse Jewish authors.

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I’m always looking for anthologies to read because it’s a nice way to discover new authors. When this collection was first announced, I was very excited because it features many authors I follow on social media and enjoy interacting with. Despite not knowing much about Judaism as a religion or culture, I really had a lot of fun reading these stories. They are a wonderful exploration of what being Jewish means, how there are various expressions of the faith and no one of them is better than the other. It’s also about community and belonging and I really connected to that aspect of the stories. Also, the authors don’t shy away from using a lot of Hebrew words which would be unfamiliar for non ownvoices readers like me, but I liked it and it gave me an opportunity to look them up and try to get to know about them better. Overall, this is a nice group of stories about young Jewish kids just finding their way in life.

Indoor Kids – Alex London 

A cute story about one science nerd and one intense religious artsy kid just getting to know each other during summer camp. It was funny, geeky, and a whole lot of awkward but also a lovely beginning to the anthology.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Two Truths and an Oy – Dahlia Adler 

Mali is a Modern Orthodox Jew at the orientation for NYU and she is pretty excited to start her real life. But she also finds it very difficult to socialize with others she meets because they are so different from her faith. This is a beautiful story about the importance of community and that it’s ok to feel comfortable only with people who relate to your experience.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Hold – David Levithan 

A story of first love and heartbreak, and what all different things being Jewish can mean, this one was full of wisdom and heart and made me a bit emotional.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Aftershocks – Rachel Lynn Solomon 

A sweet story about a non religious girl feeling unsure about meeting the very religious parents of her boyfriend. Other than exploring the different spectrums of being Jewish, this story also has OCD and anxiety representation and I thought it was done very well.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Good Shabbos – Goldy Moldavsky 

I don’t think I got the point of this story. It did have a lot of Jewish customs being talked about which I liked and the theme of best friends wanting to spend time together. But there were a couple of things that put me off. I also didn’t particularly like the footnotes.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️

Jewbecca – Lance Rubin 

This story about a boy feeling like a fake Jew because he doesn’t follow the customs was very relatable and quite sweet. But the best part was him realizing that it was still ok, that he could still be Jewish without knowing everything about the faith.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

El Al 328 – Dana Schwartz 

While I could totally see the terror of being in a flight during severe turbulence, and the desperation of a young women to be kissed atleast once, I can’t say I really enjoyed this story or even understood the point of it.

Rating:⭐️⭐️

Some days you’re the sidekick; Somedays you’re the superhero – Katherine Locke 

A story about two friends who’ve lost their way a little and are trying to find it again, I really enjoyed this one. I particularly loved the nod to fandoms and the way it’s all written in the form of a tumblr fic. Made me smile and lot.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

He Who Revives the Dead – Elie Lichtschein 

Taking place during a Birthright trip, this is the story of a young woman trying to face her fears after her next experience with death. It has a great hopeful message which I enjoyed. I loved the descriptions of the places in Israel that the group visits and I was intrigued to listen to the discussions they had about the occupation.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Be Brave and All – Laura Silverman 

The tale of two introverts who meet during a convention in DC and decide to be brave and step out of their comfort zone to be part of a greater cause. Their whole anxiety about being social and among crowds felt totally relatable.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Neilah – Hannah Moskowitz 

With a very painful but sensitive representation of an eating disorder, this is a story of a college girl trying to find her place in the world where she has always felt the need to be smaller. It’s about finally accepting that she can occupy the space that is hers and just be herself. Very beautifully written.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

From the River – Matthue Roth 

This story confused me a lot and the whole idea of fifteen year olds contemplating becoming Orthodox because they feel everything else is just superficial, felt very weird to me. Not my kind of story.

Rating:⭐️.5

Ajshara – Adi Alsaid 

The only paranormal story in this collection, it’s about a young man who can communicate with ghosts. And it’s a nice coming of age story of him accepting his ability and understanding some inherent truths about himself and moving ahead in his life.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Twelve Frames – Nova Ren Suma 

A story about identity and roots, this one follows a young girl who just wants to live her life true to herself, not conforming to any societal standards, despite facing a lot of opposition to her choices. Another interesting coming of age story.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

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PS: Thank you to Netgalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing me with this advance review copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

4 thoughts on “ARC Review: It’s A Whole Spiel Edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman

Add yours

  1. Ooooh! You’re right! That’s why I read anthologies too. To kinda find myself a new author who’s writing style or genre I love.

    The blurb sounds truly fantastic. Diverse too. I love your little reviews they’re sho cute Sahi ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I loved how you highlight the points of the book you loved in a sweet short paragraph. HOW DO YOU CONCISE?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right… Anthologies are great to find new authors even if we end up not liking all the stories in it … And this one was really diverse and so new, because I hardly know anything about Judaism..
      I don’t know how I got into writing the little reviews Ahana… they are actually pretty tough to write 😂😂😂😂 especially when I don’t understand the deeper meaning behind the story… but it’s fun too…

      Liked by 1 person

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