How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Have you actually read a book outside of the typical American setting this month? If not, then for a new cultural immersion you can read How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles, a light, funny novel set in Israel.
The story centers on Amy Nelson, a sixteen-year-old American with her Israelite father, who she doesn’t get along with due to him not being there for her. Unfortunately, this summer, she is forced to go on a vacation with him back to his homeland when her grandmother is struck with cancer. The problem? The Barak’s—her father’s family—doesn’t know she exists. With cousins that give her the evil eye and a jerk that weirdly enjoys rescuing her in damsel-in-distress moments, Amy isn’t exactly having fun this summer.
The book reads like a chick flick: it can bring laughs, it’s cliché, but somehow it works. Although there isn’t a cultural overdose, I could imagine most of the places that Amy went to and the things she did. My experience with Israel is admittedly very short, so it was nice to learn about a different country.
However, my biggest issue was with the narrator herself. Although she could get herself into situations downright hilarious, she overreacted way too much with things, and I couldn’t really see why the love interest liked her that much. Inside, she seemed like a nice person, but she was just annoying. I even found myself chuckling in agreement when Avi called her a ‘spoiled American bitch’. That kind of describes her personality.
One thing that irked me was the way the size of her breasts was repeatedly mentioned throughout the storyline. Yes, I know, her boobs jiggle up and down always. Yeah, you have a big butt. No, it isn’t necessary to tell me that ten times throughout the story.
Despite the end being predictable, it was an okay book for me. I didn’t hate it, but I won’t be jumping up and either. I think it would be translated into a movie better, due to the length and the original storyline. However, if you like short novels with humor, you may enjoy this better than I did.
In a Nutshell
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation might be a perfect fit for someone to read on their own vacation, although the main character made the reading less enjoyable. Humorous and fast, I’ll give in three stars.
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