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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  317 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Rachel thought she was grown up enough to accept that no one is perfect. Her parents argue, her grandmother has been acting strangely, and her best friend doesn't want to talk to her. But none of that could have prepared her for what she overheard in her synagogue's sanctuary.

Now Rachel's trust in the people she loves is shattered, and her newfound cynicism leads to reckle
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  317 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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The key positive statement I can make in the aftermath of reading Deborah Heiligman's "Intentions" is that it's a very compulsive, quick read. I stayed up in the wee hours of the morning finishing it. It's very easy to get through if you're engaged in the storyline for what it offers. The story centers around a trainwreck of events in the life of a Jewish teen named Rachel, who ends up questioning everything around her. She falls into her own missteps after several hard hits that change her pers ...more
Amy Lignor
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ah…the world of role models for young adults. (LOL)

In this tale our main character, Rachel, has had just about enough of her parents constantly fighting. Not only is that bugging her, but her best friend, Alexis, seems to have transformed from the normal, fun-loving girl that Rachel always cared about to a mopey Goth who talks about sex, drugs, etc., ever since her parents divorced.

One day, after overhearing yet another household battle, Rachel runs into the sanctuary. This is the peace where s
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Two stars (**) for good intentions (!!) and for the superb jacket design (credit to C. Fuenfhausen). Unfortunately, the book itself comes up woefully short, although I admit that I'm judging it on overall merits, and not specifically in the Youth Romance category. Here's why:

First, the characters were supremely flat. Even the lead character, Rachel Greenberg, despite her stated "smarts" in school, has no serious insights into anything. I was a young adult once and my children were in that catego
Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog:

Rachel's world is shaken to its core when she overhears her rabbi getting down in the synagouge. I mean, who can blame her? A man she has known forever, seen her through bad times, listened carefully when she had questions about her religion, and has been a person of superior authority in her life has just shocked the crap out of her. So not only are her parents constantly fighting and her favorite relative in the world a shell of her former sel
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Okay I’ll admit it I was only interested because of its cover! The cover is so freakish and mysterious that it had caught my eye but after having read the book I could not find any relation to the cover and the story. *scratches head*

Anyway, the book started out strong. I mean what with hearing the Rabbi doing “things” and all, it makes you keep reading but further in the book I felt that the author was just twisted. Like knowing that the Rabbi is a big hypocrite, your parents fighting and your
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Holy crap! Please excuse my French, but this book was so EFFED UP! From the first two chapters in the sanctuary to the messed up relationships between parents, boys and best friends to the heavier tragedies like Randy and Grandma. Wow!

I think a LOT of people are going to be either pissed off and annoyed like hell. The characters in the book were crazy, and the story development was chaotic. But for some crazy reason - I know, maybe I'm messed up too - I liked this freakin' train wreck.

The book m
Oct 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This was ones of those books taht you just read out of impulse.

It was okay but honestly the description gave me a everyonr around me is fucking up what gives them a right to judge me over what i do vibe.
But it was just a normal book: people around her fuck up, she fucks up, somehow it gets solved (kinda) and the end.
I did hope she'd sort of give up on Alexis (her friend) and expected her to connect the dots on that case (taht Alexis' mom kep comparing her to Rachel and that made Alexis feel rese
Paula HGZ
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: meh
This book was either poorly written or the story was badly constructed, I can't decide which...

Rachel was an overreactive, impulsive, manipulative brat and I honestly got that what she was going through affected her, but I still didn't like her. The book was packed with sub-plots and extra-characters that had no value whatsoever and it took away from Rachel's story...

Rachel's family was broken and twisted and I just wish it hadn't just been solved like 'oopsie, everoyone makes mistakes, let's f
One-sitting page-turner.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent YA read - highly recommend it!
Joséphine (Word Revel)
Review also available on

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Rachel, as with everyone else in the community, adored Rabbi Cohn. He was her role model and a seemingly charming man. Whenever he led services, she would lap up every single word he said. In her eyes, he was perfect and he could do no wrong. That is, until the day she reached the temple early for service and realized that she had overheard the rabbi committing adultery, on the bima, no less! Knowing his sin, and knowing that he d
Brianna McDonald
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was the right length for all the content, in it. It was hard to follow who was who at times. Alexis was the typical "bad girl" that people try to be today. Jake was a good boy, that believed in the truth, and tried to be the best he could be at all times, in school and out. ...more
Logan Aker
This books was honestly a great read. I love fiction books, especially about life and the issues we can come across.
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-fiction
This book first came to my attention around a year ago when it won a Sydney Taylor Award at the Association of Jewish Libraries. It intrigued me, because it's rare to come across young adult fiction with such a direct, progressive Jewish flair. This is the community that I may have grown up in, if my suburb were a bit more jewish, I stayed in public school, and temple and community played a more central role with my family. Or maybe if I had just joined a youth group after my bat mitzvah. :p. I ...more
Bethany Miller
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: royal
Tired of listening to her parents fighting, Rachel leaves early to go to Temple one Saturday afternoon. She goes into the sanctuary hoping to find some peace and to talk to Rabbi Cohn about her problems. Her parents are fighting constantly, her former best friend is treating her badly for no apparent reason, and she isn’t sure where she stands with kind-of boyfriend Jake. When she finds the sanctuary empty, she lays down on one of the pews and drifts off to sleep waking a little while later to t ...more
Wandering Librarians
Rachel's parents are fighting more and more. Her best friend Alexis is acting like a different person, and the person she admires most, her temple's rabbi, has just let her down in a monumental way. Rachel struggles to make sense of it all, but before she can make it through she has a long way to fall.

I didn't love it. There wasn't anything in particular that turned me off. It was a good story. The characters were fine. It moved along. It was just fine all around I guess. Nothing jumped out at
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Intentions begins with 15 year old Rachel escaping to the synagogue to avoid her fighting parents and subsequently witnessing something that sets her world at a tilt. As we meet the people in Rachel's world, you soon realize that her old friendships are changing. She hardly knows her best friends anymore, and her attempts to repair that relationship made me cringe more than once. Even without witnessing what she did Rachel is in a major state of transition in her life. Deborah Heiligman paints a ...more
Dec 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Intentions was such a messy read!

I spent the first five minutes trying to figure out what on earth was going on and the next ten minutes wondering why the protagonist just wouldn't stop talking about the Rabbi. The first 20 pages of this book had me thinking that the whole book was about the Rabbi, which, it's not.

Okay, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. Let me explain, Intentions does not feel like you're starting at the beginning of the story; it makes you like you were thrown
Angela Fristoe
Apr 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-books
Intentions started off really strong and I thought the initial conflict Rachel had was an interesting way for her to start questioning her faith not just in her religion, but also her faith in the people around her. That said I think it was a bit of a stretch to think that this one incident that she observes serves as the catalyst for every choice she makes throughout the book. Yes, aspects of her life do start to break down and she does some stupid things, but even when she realizes she's done ...more
Joana Hill
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
Read more reviews at my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.

It took me a while to start on this review after I finished reading. Not because it was bad; in fact, it was the opposite! Intentions is one of the few books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in a while. I suppose it’s easier to complain than compliment, though.

I seem to be on a bit of a Judaism kick for YA lately; just a few weeks ago I read one called If I Should Die Before I Wake, about a neo-Nazi girl who kept flashing back to the life of a Jewish gi
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Getrost
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: realisticfiction
A story about having your faith shaken, and how that can affect you. Sixteen year old Rachel Greenberg, a devoted Jew, overhears her beloved Rabbi having, um, inappropriate relations with a woman he's supposed to be counseling. But she can't tell her mom this earthshattering news when she sees how her mother acts around the Rabbi--she even sees them kiss! Is her mother also having an affair with him? Is this why her parents have been fighting so much lately? Where is God to help her decide what ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I finished this one yesterday and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. Rachel has so much on her plate--her rabbi has been knocked off the pedestal she's had him on since childhood, her parents are fighting like cats and dogs, her best friend doesn't seem to want to be friends anymore, she has boy trouble, a young poverty-stricken boy in her community has come to mean a lot to her, and her grandmother isn't doing so well. This book is an examination of how a young Jewish girl handles ...more
Rachel's world is falling apart. Her parents fight all the time and her best friend hardly ever speaks to her. But when she discovers the truth about the rabbi she has always revered and trusted, everything is shattered. She tries to cling to the good in her life, especially Jake, but there is so much going wrong that she sometimes feels as though she's spiraling out of control. It is going to take a great deal of determination - and intention - to set things right.

When I first started this book
Sean Kottke
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, ya
This has the best first chapter I've read in a long, long time. Rachel can feel her world coming apart, and seeks solace in her synagogue. She falls asleep, and upon awakening, makes an awful discovery that sets her on a downward spiral of doubt. The hook of the first chapter is irresistible, and pulls the novel through one or two subplots too many before reaching resolution. Along the way, Rachel's descent into existential doubt is painful, yet honest, in fact, one of the most honest depictions ...more
Karen DelleCava
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At 15, Rachel’s life has been a tightly woven tapestry of friends, parents who get long well and a rabbi whom she adores and admires as her spiritual advisor. Then everything Rachel knows to be good and true begins to unravel starting with an incident where she overhears her beloved rabbi--er, uh--*doing it* in the temple--and not with his wife. Distraught, suddenly, Rachel is forced to confront the reality that good people can make some really horrible decisions--including herself.

In this comi
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal! Obviously a good read as I read it so quickly. It is short but truly a book that makes you want to keep turning pages. Rachel is funny and normal. Her internal monologue is witty and quirky. Honestly, her inner thoughts and inner jokes reminded me of myself and the thoughts I have that sometimes are definitely better left unsaid considering the moments I have them in. Rachel becomes conflicted due to the confusing and upsetting things happening to her externally. She makes some unwis ...more
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: states
Juvenile and YA novels that have a religious theme are always of interest to me, so I placed this book on hold after reading a favorable review.

Fifteen-year-old Rachel, already luckwarm in Judaism, loses her faith in God and takes a dive into promiscuous and risky behaviors after witnessing her beloved rabbi engaging in sex in the synagogue's sanctuary with a young woman who's come to him for counseling. Contributing to her confusion, anger and loss of trust are her parents' strained marriage a
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
So, what happens to you when you lose all faith in humanity? Evidently, its' a mix of promiscuity, experimentation, and trouble with school. Now, to be fair, Intentions did a great job of finding a series of events that are *almost* believable. Almost. Meaning not. Not believable. What are the odds, really, of one spunky, happy-go-lucky teen falling down the slippery slope of substance abuse, crime, and pathetic woe-is-me depression and then be reborn from the ashes of understanding in under 300 ...more
Oct 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Rachel’s life is falling apart. Her parents are fighting all the time, her beloved grandmother’s mind is going, and she’s just witness her rabbi, a man she reveres almost more than God him/herself, having sex in the synagogue with someone who is not his wife! And her best friend barely acknowledges her. These events send Rachel spiraling into some dark moments, until finally the rabbi’s teachings resurface and remind her to live and act with intention and to make things right. Though this reads ...more
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Deborah Heiligman has been writing for children since she worked at Scholastic News soon after college. Since then she has written more than thirty books for children and teens. Her books include picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, and young adult nonfiction and fiction. Some titles: Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, a National Book Award finalist; The Boy Who Loved Math: The I ...more

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