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Reviews of The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen

by Isaac Blum

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum X
The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2022, 224 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2023, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tina Choi
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About this Book

Book Summary

The Chosen meets Adam Silvera in this irreverent and timely story of worlds colliding in friendship, betrayal, and hatred.

Hoodie Rosen's life isn't that bad. Sure, his entire Orthodox Jewish community has just picked up and moved to the quiet, mostly non-Jewish town of Tregaron, but Hoodie's world hasn't changed that much. He's got basketball to play, studies to avoid, and a supermarket full of delicious kosher snacks to eat. The people of Tregaron aren't happy that so many Orthodox Jews are moving in at once, but that's not Hoodie's problem.

That is, until he meets and falls for Anna-Marie Diaz-O'Leary—who happens to be the daughter of the obstinate mayor trying to keep Hoodie's community out of the town. And things only get more complicated when Tregaron is struck by a series of antisemitic crimes that quickly escalate to deadly violence.

As his community turns on him for siding with the enemy, Hoodie finds himself caught between his first love and the only world he's ever known.

Isaac Blum delivers a wry, witty debut novel about a deeply important and timely subject, in a story of hatred and betrayal—and the friendships we find in the most unexpected places.

CHAPTER 1

in which I celebrate Tu B'Av by taking the first step toward my own ruination

LATER, I TRIED TO EXPLAIN to Rabbi Moritz why it was ironic that my horrible crime was the thing that saved the whole community. He didn't get it, either because he was too angry, or because his head was filled with other thoughts, or because the man has no sense of humor.

I don't think it's funny now—it ruined my life, put me in intensive care, and humiliated me and my family on a global scale. But I found it funny at the time.

It all started on Tu B'Av, which is one of the more obscure Jewish holidays. I'm Orthodox, but even I couldn't recall what the holiday was about. I only remembered when I looked out the window and saw the girl in white. She was on the sidewalk across the street.

I was in halacha class, learning about Jewish law. We were talking about ritual hand-washing. Rabbi Moritz paced back and forth in front of the whiteboard, reading from the Shulchan Aruch, making the occasional ...

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Each chapter is introduced with an irresistible teaser ("Chapter 1: in which I celebrate Tu B'Av by taking the first step toward my own ruination"), like the punchline of a joke but in reverse. Additionally, Blum intersperses chapters not with flashbacks but with flash-forwards, causing the reader to 1. Laugh because it's so darn weird, it's funny; 2. Admire Hoodie for stating his crimes outright, unlike your typical teenager; 3. Become curious enough to want to read further, especially when he mentions ending up in intensive care and "humiliating me and my family on a global scale." Blum's novel starts off slow, but is clever and provocative. At times, it turns a bit slapstick, almost as if trying to balance the gravity of the heartbreaking histories Hoodie shares. This dichotomy of humor and tragedy, familial love and violence, becomes the backbone of the novel, through which one sees there is no clear answer to how minority cultures can survive assimilation in mainstream America without repercussions or threats...continued

Full Review (623 words)

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(Reviewed by Tina Choi).

Media Reviews

Horn Book Magazine (starred review)
A sharply written coming-of-age story whose protagonist, like any teen, is figuring out where he fits in, under circumstances that are thought-provoking and at times heart-wrenching.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Funny, smart, moving, courageous, and so timely it almost hurts.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Blum tackles themes of acceptance and community via an intricately detailed Orthodox Jewish cast and a steadily building anticipatory atmosphere, which enlivens this impressively drawn story.

Booklist
Blum's novel is well plotted, instructive in its portrayal of Orthodox life, and dramatic…with some much-needed humor.

Author Blurb Gavriel Savit, New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the Swallow Man
The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen is a deeply authentic story about the terror and glory of encountering the outside world without sacrificing who you are—and who you want to be. It's touching, tragic, and as Jewish as your Bubbe's cholent.

Author Blurb Tyler Feder, Sydney Taylor Award-winning author of Dancing at the Pity Party
Yehuda 'Hoodie' Rosen's goofy yet deeply thoughtful voice is a perfect guide to the complexities of navigating an ancient religion in the TikTok age. A refreshingly human look at the day-to-day nuances of Orthodox Judaism and the terror of modern antisemitism. I laughed, I gasped, I craved kosher Starburst. Two thumbs up from this nice Jewish girl!

Author Blurb Vesper Stamper, National Book Award-nominated author of What the Night Sings
Blum gives the common but often-dismissed spiritual journey of many teens the respect it deserves in this witty, profound look at cross-cultural friendship, courageous honesty, and how a willingness to truly see and love our neighbors can change an entire community.

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Beyond the Book

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah celebration in a synagogue, with participants holding scrolls and dancing Human connections are arguably at their most powerful when experienced through communal dance, music and other communication beyond words. Events such as these are highlighted numerous times in Isaac Blum's debut young adult novel, The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen, which creates a picture of Orthodox Jewish life that sears into one's mind. Nowhere does the power of collective tradition resonate more than in the book's depiction of the festive holiday Simchat Torah.

Literature lovers may be pleased to know that Religious Studies Professor Samuel L. Boyd likens the feelings present in the holiday to the process of completing a book: "Reading can cause many different emotions. For some people, beginning a new book produces ...

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