Never Mind the Goldbergs
Don't think for a second that you know Hava or her place in the world. Yes, she's an Orthodox Jew. But that doesn't mean she can't rock out. And yes, she has opinions about everything around her. But her opinions about herself can be twice as harsh.
Now Hava's just been asked to be the token Jew on a TV show about a Jewish family, trading one insular community for another. As in Tanuja Desai Hidier's BORN CONFUSED, there is soon a collision of both cultures and desires -- with one headstrong heroine caught in the middle.
Though the first chapter starts on the last day of school, the second chapter gives the reader some background: After being randomly discovered outside of a store, she's cast in an Off-Broadway play. Not thinking much of herself as an actress, she easily returns to her normal routine of friends, family and school after the play ends.
On the last day of the school year, she is called into the principal's office. She thinks she is going to be scolded for acting out earlier that day. Instead, she is shocked by huge news: a new television comedy about a family wants her to play the older sister - and she starts on Monday. Immediately, her summer plans are out the window. She relocates to Los Angeles and has a total culture shock. The West Coast world is very different from her hometown, where everyone knew everyone. Hava discovers that living on her own isn't all that it is cracked up to be, and neither is the entertainment industry.
Never Mind the Goldbergs is far meatier than it first appears. Hava is a fabulous protagonist. Her attempts to find a balance between her religion and her work feel real, with her actions never making her a saint, but never making her into a bad girl either. She tries to make good choices for herself. She never does something just to stand out and get attention, nor does she try to fit in and conform. She simply is who she is. She is a flawed, realistic character, and that's what makes it work. I definitely recommend this book.
Once you read Never Mind The Goldbergs, you'll certainly remember it. This funny and original novel will have you searching the shelves of your local bookstore or library for more books by Matthue Roth.
In Never Mind The Goldbergs, the author introduces readers to Hava Aaronson. Hava is an Orthodox Jew. She is not, however, what anyone would expect her to be knowing that. She loves punk rock music, concerts (she just has to be careful about touching guys), and has multi-colored hair. She even manages to make her ankle-length skirts look punk.
Things change for Hava when she is offered a roll on a sitcom about Orthodox Jews, and leaves New York for Los Angeles. The only person in the city she knows is a friend from her school back home, Moishe, who is making a documentary about his life that will run three months long. However, she also has her gay, non-Jewish best friend, Ian, in New York, who she calls at every opportunity.
In LA, Hava is two different people. She is Shoshana Goldberg, oldest daughter in the Goldberg family, and Hava Aaronson, only Orthodox Jew in the cast of a show about Orthodox Jews (who aren't really anything like any of the Jews Hava knows back in New York).
This is a great book for anybody. Hava defies all stereotypes and is just her own person, which is great. Matthue Roth is also a fabulous writer, and characterization is definitely a strength of his; he does a great job with all of his characters. Never Mind The Goldbergs is an awesome book, certainly worth reading!