Where books are chronicled from beginning to end, and never stop being read.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Next Year in Israel

First, I would like to say that I hope everyone is safe and secure during the horrible snowstorm raging through the northeast. That said, as I sit here with my tea and cheese crackers, I'm happy to state that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Initially, because it is Young Adult fiction, I had my doubts about another sad teen book that had the potential of ending with Stephen King's Carrie-like vindication.
Next Year in Israel by Sarah Bridgeton
This was one of those times I was pleased to be proven wrong. Next Year in Israel is about a girl named Rebecca who is ceaselessly bullied and tormented by her peers for seven long years.

Now, I don't need to tell you that seven years to a child is a lifetime.

It doesn't help that Rebecca comes from a dysfunctional, broken home with no emotional support coming her way. She feels trapped and useless. In the midst of it all, she attempts to commit suicide.

Young or old, when reading this book, you feel Rebecca's pain, her sense of urgency and the struggle that she cannot overcome. It's a heart-breaking situation that happens more than we would like to admit. Fortunately for Rebecca, she gets the opportunity to take herself out of the hell that she had been living in for so long.

She goes to a boarding school in Israel and reinvents herself. She learns for the first time in her life what friendship means. Perchance because of her past struggles and pains, Rebecca is more sensitive to her peers and displays a deeper understanding in many ways. As the books draws on, the reader will notice that in typical teenage fashion, there are definite moments of raging hormones and dramatic highs and lows. And, of course, what group of teenage girls would be complete without agonizing over boys?

As Rebecca finally begins to appreciate herself and develop some self-confidence along her journey, I felt my own mood becoming more buoyant. It was a hard earned lesson that she had to travel half way around the world to learn. The author leaves the book open-ended. We never get to see what happens when she finally goes back home. But perhaps that is for the reader to interpret. In one way or another, is it possible that we have experienced or known a Rebecca in our lives? In this reader's imagination, Rebecca attained her own apex of survival with the steadfast resolve that she found within herself.

Next Year In Israel is thought provoking and poignant. It teaches us not to take things for granted. Life is always worth living.


  1. I like the nostalgic point of view in all your reviews. I can easily identify with the expressions of the book's material and how they relate to the story; a story anyone can follow. It seems as though you have an uncanny natural ability to put yourself in the character’s shoes as you read. You have a wonderful talent for writing! What type of writing do you prefer??

  2. Kaeru, thank you for the comment. I prefer fictional creative writing but I love writing these reviews!

  3. Gigi,

    Thank you for the review! I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

    Sarah Bridgeton

  4. Sarah, it was my absolute pleasure. I look forward to your next release! Thank you for letting me review it!