Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: Intentions by Deborah Heiligman

by Deborah Heiligman
Published: August 14, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Available: Amazon (pre-order)

Rachel thought she was grown up enough to accept that no one is perfect. Her parents argue, her grandmother has been acting strangely, and her best friend doesn’t want to talk to her. But none of that could have prepared her for what she overheard in her synagogue’s sanctuary.

Now Rachel’s trust in the people she loves is shattered, and her newfound cynicism leads to reckless rebellion. Her friends and family hardly recognize her, and worse, she can hardly recognize herself. But how can the adults in her life lecture her about acting with kevanah, intention, when they are constantly making such horribly wrong decisions themselves? This is a witty, honest account of navigating the daunting line between losing innocence and entering adulthood—all while figuring out who you really want to be.

Intentions started off really strong and I thought the initial conflict Rachel had was an interesting way for her to start questioning her faith not just in her religion, but also her faith in the people around her. That said I think it was a bit of a stretch to think that this one incident that she observes serves as the catalyst for every choice she makes throughout the book. Yes, aspects of her life do start to break down and she does some stupid things, but even when she realizes she's done something stupid, she doesn't stop. 

Rachel comes across as a typical high school girl. She's worried about her friends and her family. She thinks she may finally get a date with the good neighbor boy. Very quickly she starts to rebel first out of anger at the adults in her life, and then also from anger at her former best friend. She risks the good things in her life, only to do self-destructive things. What keeps her relateable is that she feels anger and guilt over what she does and confusion on how to fix things, and best of all there is a sense that she's grown by the end of the story, regardless of the outcome.

There is a heavy focus on Rachel's Jewish faith, but is done in a way that is more informative than preachy. Heiligman manages to incorporate aspects of the Jewish faith into the story naturally and it was interesting to see how Rachel's religion impacts her expectations and choices.

Overall, Intentions was a nice read, engaging enough that I finished in one sitting, and fast paced enough that I never had a chance to get bored. But sometimes it felt like the fast pace was due more to the constant adding of drama, as opposed to the natural flow. It's just not a book that's going to stick with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment