Aviva vs. the Dybbuk
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About the Author
"Nothing I compare this book to really gets at its intricate layering of myth, trauma, fun, awkwardness, and sheer believability. At times it can feel as though Ms. Lowe is spinning a dozen plates in the air and something is bound to fall. Nothing fell for me, though. This is a marvelous model for how to write for kids. A mystery at its core. An unreliable narrator. A supernatural creature. Huh! I think I've figured out how I'll describe it for kids! Give it a read and find your own way too." -- Betsy Bird, SLJ Fuse8
"A mystery. An unreliable narrator. A supernatural creature. Such elements are woven skillfully together in this story of a Jewish girl growing up in a home above a mikvah (a religious pool) that is haunted by a dybbuk, or mischievous spirit. As we learn more about Aviva's story, and why she and her mother feel ostracized from their community, it becomes clear that though this tale is regularly punctuated with action and fun, at its core is a serious consideration of the ways that familial grief can gnaw on a person's psyche. Daring in its creativity."
-- Betsy Bird, NPR Best Books of the Year so Far
"When I really like a book for kids, I try to find just the right pitch for it. I want to describe it to kids so that they'll want to read it, and to adults so that they'll want to buy it/award it/read it. So how do I pitch this to kids? A pity most of them aren't familiar with The Boggart by Susan Cooper. That's a story of a mischievous spirit wreaking havoc, though it certainly lacks Lowe's penchant for working in larger themes. The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton isn't a terrible comparison, but what kid remembers it anymore? Perhaps a better link would be something with a twist ending. Certainly with adults I'll be mentioning The Sixth Sense (and, fortunately, the twist at the end of this book, while it has some parallels to that M. Night Shyamalan film, is different enough that my saying that doesn't give anything away). But of course that's also not quite what's going on here either. Nothing I compare this book to really gets at its intricate layering of myth, trauma, fun, awkwardness, and sheer believability. At times it can feel as though Ms. Lowe is spinning a dozen plates in the air and something is bound to fall. Nothing fell for me, though. This is a marvelous model for how to write for kids. A mystery at its core. An unreliable narrator. A supernatural creature. Huh! I think I've figured out how I'll describe it for kids! Give it a read and find your own way too." -- Betsy Bird, Fuse8
""Aviva is a strong lead, both relatable and flawed. It is refreshing to see a story focused on an Orthodox child that renders that world realistically while also dealing with universal struggles. Both Aviva and her story are worth spending time with."--Foreword Reviews"
[STAR] "A deliberate and engrossing story about loss, grief and the healing power of belief. A complex and compelling middle-grade ghost story."--Shelf-Awareness (starred)
"The book ends on a pos-i-tive note, show-ing how a whole com-mu-ni-ty, both Jews and non-Jews, can work togeth-er to make things bet-ter. In the process, Avi-va gains friends and peace."--Jewish Book Council
"A rare, sensitive portrayal of a contemporary Orthodox Jewish community."--New York Times
"Aviva vs. the Dybbuk is a gem of a middle grade book. The fully fleshed-out characters are drawn lovingly and sensitively... In addition to being a well-crafted and beautiful book, this story provides a rare and much-needed form of Jewish representation: an authentic story about an Orthodox Jewish girl that is steeped in her lifestyle without being about that lifestyle. It should be a very strong contender for the Sydney Taylor Award." -- Sydney Taylor Shmooze
"Engaging and timely. The threads come together in a crescendo of activity and emotion that keeps the reader glued to the page to see what will happen next, where it will lead, and how it will be resolved."--Association of Jewish Libraries
""Debut author Lowe offers an insider's view of a close-knit Orthodox Jewish community where much of daily life is prescribed in gender-segregated activities. The dybbuk mystery is well-handled, as are the secrets surrounding Abba's death, which Aviva has blocked from her consciousness. A compassionate look at grief and healing."--Booklist,
"" An intimate look at a contemporary Orthodox Jewish community in this nuanced story of a girl regaining her footing after her father's death...Aviva is an engaging heroine... Lowe portrays Aviva and Ema's mourning with a gentle touch, gradually building to an ending that points toward spiritual and emotional healing, thanks to the steadfast support of their Jewish community, especially its women."-- Publishers Weekly,
""Described with grace and thoughtfulness."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books,
"[STAR] "This emotionally complex novel set within a contemporary Orthodox Jewish community is full of immersive Jewish detail... The book creates a strong sense of the protagonist's isolation--awkward, impetuous Aviva has difficult relationships with her classmates, and communication is strained with her mother, who lives with severe depression--but remains accessible while addressing its heavy issues. Unreliable narrator though Aviva ends up being, she's a heart-rendingly sympathetic one."
-- The Horn Book (starred),
"Hard-to-put-down...Coping with loss, grief, family issues, and the true meaning of friendship, readers will be anxious to understand what's behind Aviva and her mother's actions."-- The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
Best of the Year, Bank Street College