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10 Jewish Books for the Rest of the Summer

10 Jewish Books for the Rest of the Summer

Covers of three of the books listed in this article

There’s still plenty of summer left, which means lots of opportunities to get your summer reading in. Here are 10 of our favorite new-ish Jewish books.

Just the Funny Parts by Nell Scovell

Writer, producer, and director Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of iconic TV shows like The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman (Scovell was only the second woman ever to write for the show), Murphy Brown, and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, which she created and executive produced. In her fun, honest, and often shocking memoir, she writes about being a woman in a highly competitive, male-dominated field, and delivers insights into the creative process.

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein-Halevi

American-born Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi (who spoke with earlier this year) makes a powerful attempt to reach beyond the wall that separates Israelis and Palestinians. In a series of letters, he discusses faith, pride, anger, and anguish, and his commitment to Israel as a morally responsible, democratic state.

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, accidentally time-travels to 1988 East Berlin. She meets members of an underground guild who use history and magic to help people escape over the Berlin Wall – but nobody can figure out the mystery of Ellie’s time travel. Will she ever make it home?

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

This YA novel, written in verse, is a fresh retelling of Romeo and Juliet that takes place in modern-day Israel/Palestine. Separated by generations of conflict, two teenagers fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

In New York’s Lower East Side in 1969, word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The four adolescent Gold children sneak out to hear their fates, which inform their next five decades.

Hunting the Truth: Memoirs of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld by Beate and Serge Klarsfeld

This dual autobiography by two people born on the opposite sides of World War II tells the story of fifty years devoted to bringing Nazis to justice. Beate and Serge Klarsfeld have hunted, confronted, prosecuted, and exposed Nazi war criminals all over the world, and fought relentlessly for the memory of those who died in the Holocaust and for modern-day victims of genocide and discrimination. Written in their alternating voices, the Klarsfelds tell their story of a lifetime dedicated to combatting evil.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

This young adult novel (but highly enjoyable for all ages) follows Jewish twins Molly and Cassie as they navigate teenage romance. Molly stays away from relationships because she can’t stomach the idea of rejection—but when Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick, Molly is lovesick for the first time.

The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky

A very special painting by Chaim Soutine connects the lives and fates of two different women, generations apart, in this novel that moves from World War II Vienna to modern-day Los Angeles. Both women, searching for the work of art that had once meant so much to them, forge an unexpected friendship, eventually revealing long-held secrets.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

We Were the Lucky Ones is inspired by the true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive and reunite. One sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee Europe, and others struggle to escape in different ways. The novel demonstrates how even during the darkest moments, the human spirit can endure and thrive.

Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death by Lillian Faderman

Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official, was deeply influenced by the cultural values of his Jewish upbringing. While there’s no shortage of opportunities to learn about Milk’s tremendous influence, this is the only one that closely details his Jewish identity and the impact that Judaism had on his life.

What are you reading this summer? Comment and let us know - and find more reads on our book reviews page.

Marissa Solomon is the digital communications producer for the Union for Reform Judaism. Based in New York, she is originally from Ann Arbor, MI, and has a degree in public policy from the University of Michigan.

Marissa Solomon
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