REVIEWER'S CHOICE

12:00 AM CST on Saturday, November 4, 2006

Goy Crazy

Melissa Schorr

(Hyperion, 352 pages, $15.99)

Despite what some people think, "goy" is no slur. It's really just a Hebrew word for "people." Any people other than Jews, that is. So when the love bug bites 15-year-old Rachel Lowenstein, and the boy is a "goy" – oy!

This is journalist Melissa Schorr's first novel, inspired by her GQ article "The Joy of Goys." She went "goy-crazy" herself, she admits, before settling on a nice Jewish boy.

Ah, the angst! Everything is in here: delicious dreams, resulting schemes, doubts, pouts and shouts. The story is Rachel's, told first-person in words ringing as true as her teenage experiences: making choices, coping with peer pressure, keeping secrets from parents, testing for the first time the fringes of sex and learning that family values may offer welcome surprises.

Of course, we're sure from the start that Rachel will be OK – it's that kind of book. Goy Crazy is a good choice for reading and discussion in youth groups sponsored by religious institutions of all persuasions. The novel presents real dilemmas in the lives of contemporary teens, from someone who's been there, done that and knows better days lie ahead.

Harriet P. Gross