Thursday, October 20, 2022

Book Review: "The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen" by Isaac Blum

This debut novel is insightful, emotional, and very relevant.

Judah “Hoodie” Rosen is an Orthodox Jewish teenager. He knows he’s supposed to be focused on his studies but there’s always something to distract him—quite often it’s the mischief he and his friends cause in class.

But even though life seems carefree, it’s actually quite stressful. Their Orthodox community has moved into the suburban town of Tregaron and they intend to build a large apartment complex so more of them can settle there. However, the town has other ideas—they don’t want to get overrun by Jews, and thwart and harass the community at every turn.

And then Hoodie meets Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary, the daughter of Tregaron’s mayor, who is leading the charge to “protect” the town. He falls head over heels, as she’s completely different from anyone he’s ever met, and the fact that he’s not even supposed to talk to her only adds to her appeal.

As antisemitic violence increases in Tregaron, Hoodie is viewed as a traitor by his family and friends, and is ostracized. But when the violence takes a tragic turn, Hoodie has to decide between his family and his faith and the girl who won his heart.

Hoodie is such a terrific narrator, sensitive yet oblivious, funny, and flawed. This is an incredibly relevant story—whether it’s Orthodox Jews, immigrants in general, people of other races and ethnicities—there are many communities committed to doing whatever it takes to keep these “outsiders” out. This was definitely a memorable read!!

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