A Brief Guide to Jewish Young Adult Fiction

July, 14 2014
Judy Blume Headshot

by Deborah Altman

Last month brought exciting news for Judy Blume fans. The iconic young adult author announced she is working on a new release set to be out next summer, her first novel for adults since 1998. To keep you reading in the meantime, Moment has rounded up some of our favorite recent Jewish young adult releases–for kids and adults alike!

160436301. The Path of Names by Ari B. Goelman

Initially I picked this up as a birthday gift for my cousin, but by chapter two, I was hooked. Thirteen-year old Dahlia Shulman, fan of magic, math and Guitar Hero, could not be less excited about Jewish summer camp. It isn’t until after she sees two girls run straight through her cabin’s wall that she realizes there is more to camp then meets the eye. Filled with apparitions, visions and a mysterious hedge maze, Goelman’s novel blends Jewish mysticism with the familiar background of that first summer away from home. The book touches on spirituality, friendship, courage and much more. Nominated for a number of awards and selected by Booklist as one of the Top Ten New Novels for Youth, The Path of Names is definitely one to check out. Grades 5-7.

101735012. The Inquisitor’s Apprentice Series by Chris Moriarty

I came across Moriarty’s fantasy book while flipping through the library’s new releases. Thinking I’d give it a quick glance, I made myself cozy in a hidden armchair only to get up five hours later, having finished both The Inquisitor’s Apprentice and its sequel, The Watcher in the Shadows. The series follows nice Jewish boy Sacha who is an inquisitor and witch-seer in turn-of-the-century New York. Alongside his mentor, Maximillian Wolf, Sacha is on the hunt to take down magical gangs and solve a murder. Full of fun characters and exciting plot twists, it’s hard to put down, even for adults. Trust me. Grades 4-7.

130897143. Intentions by Deborah Heiligman

Rachel has just walked in on her rabbi in–ahem–a delicate situation with a woman who isn’t his wife. On top of that, Rachel’s parents are fighting, her grandmother’s health is deteriorating, and her budding romance is increasingly complicated. More gritty and intense than the others on this list, Intentions is a book about coming to terms with imperfection and finding one’s faith. Heiligman captures the teen spirit beautifully in this 2013 winner of the Sydney Taylor Award for Teen Readers. Grades 8+.


ShanghaiEscape_Cover.indd4. Shanghai Escape by Kathy Kacer

This is an episodic novelization of young Lily Toufar’s real-life experiences in Shanghai’s Jewish community and Hongkew ghetto. Kacer manages to achieve a delicate balance between the horrors of the Holocaust and the age of young readers. One of three finalists for the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards, Shanghai Escape gives a peak into a vibrant piece of history too often glossed over. Grades 4-6.


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