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Never Mind the Goldbergs Booktalk

  • Grades: 9–12

“A vividly voiced fish-out-of-water story with a twist....Readers will be both amused and intrigued by this lively teen struggling to amalgamate her religious and secular cultures without compromising either.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Hava’s rebellious, doubting, and disaffected voice lends itself well to her hard-fought spiritual journey....appealing to any teenager struggling with faith.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

When a seventeen-year-old punk rock Orthodox Jewish princess from New York goes to Hollywood to star in a new Jewish situation comedy, almost anything can happen—and does!

It was only two periods away from summer break and I was in Prophets class with Rabbi Goldberg, the principal of our yeshiva. Since it was the last day of school, I’d let my fashion sense run wild. We had to wear ankle length skirts, and mine was denim, with a knee length bright green plaid over that, and a maroon polyester miniskirt on top. A hoodie only partly covered my Metallica tee with a picture of bloody I-don’t-know-whats peeking out. My hair was a bunch of burgundy and purple spikes. And I guess it was because it was the last day of school and I was fed up with school in general and the Rabbi in particular, that I decided to defy him when he told me that flipping the pages of our textbook was osser, forbidden. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I was called out of Yiddish class to go to his office. Being in trouble was nothing new for me. I’d always been the kid of kid who didn’t really fit in. But I never expected what happened when I walked into Rabbi Goldberg’s office. He nodded at the phone on his desk, which was off the hook, and said, “This movie producer. He asked for you by name.” I picked up the phone. “Hava, we’re casting a new comedy pilot for next spring. We’ve seen your resume and we’d like to fly you out for a shoot.”

And just like that, my life changed. The year before, on an impulse, I’d walked into this punk rock store over in the Village and this producer for an off Broadway show about John Cage saw my teal and orange spiked hair, and decided instantly I should be in his play. My parents were okay with that, and the producer was cool about Shabbas and everything. So I did it, for four months. We played to packed houses the whole time—audiences loved us. But when it was over, I thought, “So much for my acting career,” and went back to my old life. And then I got that call for Hollywood, and before I knew it, I was on my way to LA, to my new apartment and my new career. My old life, my family and my friends were three thousand miles away. They couldn’t define me any more. I couldn’t define myself any more. I was in a twilight zone where nothing seemed real. And that was only the way I felt that first night. I had no idea what lay ahead in the next few months.

This booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart

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  • Subjects:
    Literature, Literature Appreciation
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