Monday, February 28, 2011

Confessions of a Closet Catholic

Littman, S.D. (2005). Confessions of a Closet Catholic. New York, NY: Dutton Children's Books.

Plot Summary:
Justine is having doubts about being Jewish. Her friend Mac’s family seems to be so much closer and more fun than hers; Justine thinks it might have to do with them being Catholic. She decides to turn her closet into a confessional, wearing her long black skirt and mother’s dinner napkin on her head, her large stuffed teddy bear is “Father Ted,” and matzo crackers and grape juice as her communion. Justine is also having a difficult time being the middle child in her family. She feels that her mother likes her older sister the best and her father likes her younger brother. Suddenly, Justine's grandmother, Bubbe, has a stroke and must come live with Justine's family. Justine is horrified when her mother finds out about her wanting to become Catholic and reveals this to Bubbe, a Holocaust survivor. Through her Bubbe's wise words and the help of a priest and rabbi, Justine begins to understand God and her own identity.

This book has so many wonderful levels to it. It discusses religion, self-identity issues, and the middle child syndrome, all very heavy subjects, but it does it in a very lighthearted way. Justine is a very likable character, she's smart and very funny, and is sadly pretty self-deprecating as well. As she struggles to understand her parents, God, and herself, Justine starts to appreciate herself. The author does a wonderful job of understanding and demonstrating the questioning nature of tweens in their discovery of self-identity, especially on the topic of religion.

realistic fiction, humor

Reading Level:
Ages 9 - 12

Similar Books:

religion, self-identity, middle child, the Holocaust, family

Character Names/Descriptions:
Justine Silver (Jussy): Justine is an eleven year-old girl; she is Jewish, but would like to be Catholic; she is a middle child; her grandmother is a Holocaust survivor
Bubbe (Zofia): Justine's grandmother; suffers a stroke; is a Holocaust survivor
Mary Catherine McAllister (Mac): Justine's Catholic friend, lives in Justine's new town
Shira: Justine's Jewish friend; lives in Justine's old town; has known her since birth

Justine has decided to give up being Jewish for lent. Through her grandmother's wisdom and the help of a priest and rabbi, Justine begins to understand God and her own identity.

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