Review of The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie RosenThe Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
by Isaac Blum
High School    Philomel    224 pp.    g
9/22    978-0-5935-2582-1    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-5935-2584-5    $10.99

Along with a small segment of their ultra-Orthodox community, fifteen-year-old Yehuda “Hoodie” Rosen’s family has recently moved from their predominantly Jewish town to another place that is less hospitable. Though the mostly non-Jewish locals, including elected officials, eye them with suspicion, Hoodie develops a friendship with Anna-Marie, daughter of the mayor. Accustomed to an isolated way of life, Hoodie (mis)interprets their relationship as romantic. The novel doesn’t shy away from questioning attitudes prevalent in this ultra-Orthodox community, including some members’ view of Hoodie’s relationship with Anna-Marie as a betrayal. Meanwhile, the antisemitism in town escalates, ultimately building to a violent extreme. But as serious as the subject matter is, there’s humor to be found in Hoodie’s narration (“You may have pictured me in your mind. If you’re going by grossly exaggerated Jewish stereotypes, then you’re spot-on. Mazel tov”) and in his misunderstandings of the wider world (see: his first time using a smartphone). A sharply written coming-of-age story whose protagonist, like any teen, is figuring out where he fits in, under circumstances that are thought-provoking and at times heart-wrenching.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She has served on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and Sydney Taylor Book Award committees.

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