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How to Ruin a Summer Vacation – Simone Elkeles

“How does a relatively smart sixteen-year-old girl get stuck in a sucky situation she can’t get out of? Well, as I sit at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on a Monday afternoon during the one hour and forty-five minute delay, I think about the past twenty-four hours of my life.”

Amy knows exactly how her summer vacation was ruined; she was forced to go to a warzone with only the Sperm Donor for company to visit a family she didn’t even know existed. It couldn’t get much worse for her, being dragged away from Tennis summer camp and all her friends to go to Israel, where she’ll probably be drafted into the army never to be seen again, or could it? On the way over to her family’s house her dad drops the huge bombshell that not only does she not know about them but they don’t even know about her; and Amy’s life really starts to crumble. Amy is on the worst summer vacation of her life and things don’t look to be getting any better soon.
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This is going to be a hard review for me to write. I did enjoy this book, it was pretty average to be honest. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it, but something urged me to keep reading. I think its because I saw the potential for the story and I wanted things to happen at the end of it all. However what I got was a pretty predictable story and I wasn’t that impressed
The story had so much potential and sounds like a great idea. However a story with good potential needs good characters to pull it through and I really didn’t warm to any of these characters. Amy was in all honesty a spoilt bitch, O’snat was awful and Avi… well don’t even go there. The only nice characters were Amy’s grandmother and her best friend. I loved how down to earth and honest her friend was and I think the only way someone wouldn’t like Amy’s grandma is if they didn’t have a heart! Ron was quite selfish in the beginning but you learnt a lot about him and he developed well. Its really a shame that the same couldn’t be said for Amy.
I really don’t want to slate this book. I finished it and as I was reading I couldn’t put it down but it was, I think, because I had high hopes for it and I wanted it to get better. I also think the writing was really quite real and that’s something that kept me going.
The one thing that was really really good about this book was the capturing of life for teenage Isrealis, I didn’t know half the things about Isreal that I do now before reading this book and I was shocked a lot of the way through it regarding the way they live and how they are drafted into the army regardless of choice at 18.
I can’t really say anything else about this book. It was a quick read so if you’re after something quick and throwaway then pick it up but other than that I dunno, it wasn’t anything special. I won’t be rushing for the rest of the series based on this one!
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation was released in 2006 by Flux Books in the US. It is the first in the How to Ruin series by Simone Elkeles, I received my copy as a gift.

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