Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com
All Amy Nelson wanted was to have a regular summer. To spend time with her best friend, Jessica, and her new boyfriend. But that won't happen for Amy by a long shot. It seems that her estranged father wants her to go back to Israel with him to visit her grandmother. Sure, going to Israel may seem exciting to most people, but not for Amy. Not when there are wars going on and the fact that she has to go with a man that she hardly knows. The one good thing that may come from this is the coolest fashions that her best friend is always telling her about.
Before she knows it, Amy's mother makes her go and she's on the next plane to Israel. Things couldn't get any worse for Amy at this point; well, actually they can. When she arrives, Amy sees something totally different then what she would see at home in Chicago. There seems to be soldiers and guards at every corner. Not only that, but Amy just discovered that she isn't sleeping in a fancy hotel, but more like an old house, with one bathroom and seven other people that she's never met. Then there's her cousin Snotty, I mean Osnat, who seems to hate Amy the moment she sees her, and the no-shirt cute-jerk, Avi, who Amy happens to see everywhere she turns. If only she could just get him out of her mind. There's also her aba, or grandmother, that for someone she hardly knows, Amy discovers there's a deep connection between the two of them.
With an entirely new family and obnoxious people in a totally different country, it seems like this might be the craziest summer yet for Amy.
HOW TO RUIN A SUMMER VACATION, no doubt, was the greatest book I've read in a long time. Not only does the basis of the book pull you in, but the cast of characters all charm their way into your heart. Even though Amy may be a little bratty at times, every obstacle she goes through and every awkward situation for her makes reading the book worthwhile. Simone Elkeles eliminates all the myths we had about Israel and introduces a completely new culture that I, for one, hardly knew anything about. Not only will you begin to appreciate Amy's new culture, but you'll also think about your own culture and how unique it is. The sequel to this book, HOW TO RUIN MY TEENAGE LIFE, will release on June 1, 2007.