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Strange Relations by Sonia Levitin

Strange Relations (2007)

by Sonia Levitin

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Reviewed by Julie M. Prince for TeensReadToo.com

It seems like such a good idea. Marne knows that her mom's sister, Carole, lives in Hawaii, so she has only to convince her parents that she should go for a long overdue visit to her relatives. She'll run along the beach, maybe even surf and swim in the ocean. Best of all, her friend will also be visiting Hawaii, so there will be no end of fun. When her parents agree to Marne's plan, she knows she's in for the perfect summer in the paradise of the Hawaiian islands!

It doesn't take long for Marne to realize that her summer may not be as flawless as she'd hoped. Her aunt, who now calls herself "Chaya" and her uncle, a rabbi, have seven children. Marne is kept busy chasing after sticky toddlers and running errands for her busy, controlling aunt. She doesn't mind helping out, but the religious world of her cousins is far different from the life she's used to back home in L.A.

Although spending Friday nights at Shabbos dinners is a far cry from the fun-filled, tropical nights she'd envisioned, Marne finds herself strangely drawn to some of the peaceful rituals practiced by her relatives. But, how will this fit in with her old life? Will her best friend, Kim, think Marne's becoming weird? What about Jeff, the hunky surfer she met while jogging on the beach? Little by little, she's figuring out who her family is and who she herself wants to become.

STRANGE RELATIONS is an enticing read for anyone interested in exploring different cultures and lifestyles. Marne is a wonderful guide, who gives a thorough glimpse of the life of Chasidic Jews, as seen by a modern teen. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 13, 2009 |
When Marne opts to spend the summer with her aunt, uncle, and seven cousins in Hawaii, she's not sure what she got herself into. Instead of lounging around on the beach, she's running errands, babysitting, helping at camp, and witnessing the strange practices of her relatives, who are Chasidic Jews. ( )
  ShellyPYA | Sep 11, 2008 |
This story is a pretty good read. It deals alot with the jewish religion, so if you arent jewish like me, it gives you a pretty good understanding of the faith. This stroy deals with pain and loss too, but in a light and sensitive way by use of humor. If you have an exteremely relgious family or know one you will laugh through out the book at Marne comments about her family. ( )
  ZanaDi17 | Apr 23, 2008 |
There is not much literature for Jewish teens where Judaism plays much of a role. Usually characters are Jewish, but very assimilated, as is indeed the main character of the book. But when she goes to visit her Aunt Carole, Chaya now, she finds herself immersed in a Hasidic lifestyle, sort of like going on an exchange program in a foreign country. The back story of her sister having been kidnapped was a bit weird, I would have thought everyone would have worried more about her when she went off. And the scene with the boys on the beach was over the top, but it's definitely a good book for Jewish teens seeking answers as to where they fit in. ( )
  cliddie | Jan 1, 2008 |
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For Lloyd, husband, hero, friend

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The Coleman Family
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Marne used to hear the hum of their voices through the wall separating their bedrooms.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375837515, Hardcover)

A summer in paradise. That's all Marne wants. That's all she can think of when she asks her parents permission to spend the summer in Hawaii with Aunt Carole and her family.

But Marne quickly realizes her visit isn't going to be just about learning to surf and morning runs along the beach, despite the cute surfer boy she keeps bumping into. For one thing, Aunt Carole isn't even Aunt Carole anymore—she's Aunt Chaya, married to a Chasidic rabbi and deeply rooted in her religious community. Nothing could be more foreign to Marne, and fitting into this new culture—and house full of kids—is a challenge. But as she settles into her newfound family's daily routine, she begins to think about spirituality, identity, and finding a place in the world in a way she never has before.

This rich novel is a window into a different life and gets to the very heart of faith, identity, and family ties.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Fifteen-year-old Marne is excited to be able to spend her summer vacation in Hawaii, not realizing the change in her lifestyle it would bring staying with her aunt, seven cousins, and uncle who is a Chasidic rabbi.

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