Recipe for Disaster

Versify/Clarion/. Sept. 2021. 352p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780358386919.
Gr 4-6–Hannah relates to the world through recipes and baking, usually along with her Grandma Mimi, older brother Sam, and best friend Shira. During Shira’s bat mitzvah, a rift forms in their friendship when Shira says that Hannah is “not really Jewish” and thus can’t have a bat mitzvah of her own. Hannah’s mother doesn’t consider herself Jewish anymore and is actively anti-religion, but Grandma Mimi supports Hannah’s plans to secretly prepare for a bat mitzvah anyway. She connects Hannah with her aunt, a rabbi who is estranged from Hannah’s mother for reasons unknown to her. Her studies and hardships and a new friend, Vee, who is Guatemalan American and Jewish, help Hannah realize the importance of atonement and explore what being Jewish really means to her. Hannah is a strong narrator, and the narrative is engagingly interspersed with charming handwritten recipes with notes and scratch-outs, poems that follow a recipe-like format, and passages from the Torah.
VERDICT Food, family, friendships, and Jewish identity are the focus of this moving coming-of-age story. Highly recommended for middle grade collections.

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