WOW Dozen: Young Adult Fiction Featuring Jewish Adolescents

By Melissa Wilson, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

Many young adult books about Jews or being Jewish are set in the Holocaust (Shoah) or in Israel. These settings limits readers from building connections to Jews who are currently living in the diaspora (not living in Israel). This WOW Dozen highlights young adult realistic fiction featuring these Jews. Each novel shows Jewish younger people living lives not directly connected to the Shoah or to the Middle East. This text set illustrates that diaspora Jews, like all cultural groups, are not a monolith. We live all over the world, speak different languages, and have varying degrees of religious orthodoxy. Yet there are ties that bind all of us, ties of traditional languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino), otherness, and a non-Christian world view. Enjoying and transacting with these texts will help students to connect with Jews and Jewish culture in the here and now. Most importantly, these connections will challenge the entrenched antisemitism that infects our American culture. Continue reading