A summer in paradise That's all Marne wants That's all she can think of when she asks her parents permission to spend the summer in Hawaii with Aunt Carole and her familyBut Marne uickly realizes her visit isn't going to be just about learning to surf and morning runs along the beach despite the cute surfer boy she keeps bumping into For one thing Aunt Carole isn't even Aunt Carole any—she's Aunt Chaya married to a Chasidic rabbi and deeply rooted in her religious community Nothing could be foreign to Marne and fitting into this new culture—and house full of kids—is a challenge But as she settles into her newfound family's daily routine she begins to think about spirituality identity and finding a place in the world in a way she never has beforeThis rich novel is a window into a different life and gets to the very heart of faith identity and family ties


10 thoughts on “Strange Relations

  1. says:

    What an odd book I fiund myself wanting detail especially in the beginning We are constantly told that her aunt's family is odd but when she meets them it just focuses on the chaos of a big family and only later do the details come out ie they dress modestly in old fashioned clothes wouldn't she have have noticed that at the airport??? There is a whole laundry list of issues thrown in mostly left unresolved just because I guess Also I'm not sure that the only lifestyle choices available to modern teens are sex and drugs OR Hasidism with nothing in between And at the end the main character is blithely promising to turn at least part time kosher as if that's not a huge big deal and a lot of work I don't know this just didn't work very well


  2. says:

    While I was intrigued by the premise I was ultimately disappointed in the execution During the first few chapters there are hints at a tragic back story for the family which comes out later and this could have been a fascinating component to the story Instead it got lost in the clutter of issues There's the tragedy there's the very Jewish aunt with the enormous family there's the cousin who's afraid of the world the cousin who won't look girls in the face the very secular friend and her wild sisters the boy on the beach the main character's exploration of Judaism the freak accident the arguing parentsit was all too much There were several incidents which seemed to be introduced only to highlight different areas of Jewish life without serving the story Marne's introduction to Judaism and the way she dealt with the family tragedy which felt like they were real heart of the story got shoved to the side by all the clutter The final straw was the way the characters talked Here she is age 15 talking to the boy from the beach 'And as the years went on' she said eyes straight ahead pushing the stroller 'I didn't know what I wanted what to ask for in case asking made any differenceAnd I kept asking myself Whose fault was it? Was it my fault? Was it my mom's faultIt went on for so long' 'Terrible' Jeff said His face looked pinched and pale 'That's so terrible for you'No it's so terrible for ME Still it's the rare YA book that actually explores issues of spirituality so I could see it appealing to some readers on that level But really can't we talk about religion AND have good writing?


  3. says:

    Reviewed by Julie M Prince for TeensReadToocomIt seems like such a good idea Marne knows that her mom's sister Carole lives in Hawaii so she has only to convince her parents that she should go for a long overdue visit to her relatives She'll run along the beach maybe even surf and swim in the ocean Best of all her friend will also be visiting Hawaii so there will be no end of fun When her parents agree to Marne's plan she knows she's in for the perfect summer in the paradise of the Hawaiian islands It doesn't take long for Marne to realize that her summer may not be as flawless as she'd hoped Her aunt who now calls herself Chaya and her uncle a rabbi have seven children Marne is kept busy chasing after sticky toddlers and running errands for her busy controlling aunt She doesn't mind helping out but the religious world of her cousins is far different from the life she's used to back home in LA Although spending Friday nights at Shabbos dinners is a far cry from the fun filled tropical nights she'd envisioned Marne finds herself strangely drawn to some of the peaceful rituals practiced by her relatives But how will this fit in with her old life? Will her best friend Kim think Marne's becoming weird? What about Jeff the hunky surfer she met while jogging on the beach? Little by little she's figuring out who her family is and who she herself wants to become STRANGE RELATIONS is an enticing read for anyone interested in exploring different cultures and lifestyles Marne is a wonderful guide who gives a thorough glimpse of the life of Chasidic Jews as seen by a modern teen


  4. says:

    Fifteen year old Marne has her summer all figured out She’ll stay with her aunt Carol who lives in Hawaii with her husband and seven children Sure Marne will help out but she’ll also be able to run on the beach and spend the summer in paradise Marne’s mom isn’t so sure; Carol now goes by Chaya her husband is a Rabbi they have 7 children and they are observant conservative Jews Marne persists though and is allowed to go At first Marne is overwhelmed at the chaos of her aunt’s home and she is frustrated at the things she isn’t used to like not drinking milk at dinner so as to keep kosher Eventually though Marne starts to find peace in some of the rituals and she starts to heal from the shadow in her family’s past I really really enjoyed this story about a girl who “finds herself” in a completely different way than she expected Odd tidbit This is the second book in the past 2 months that I read that has a character who is kidnapped named JodyGeography Challenge Hawaii


  5. says:

    I really liked this book I thought her family was really wierd but I understand that religion is religion I am proud of her for how she acted with her friends She made the right choice and so did Jeff in the end This book made me wish that I liked running


  6. says:

    Interesting book A young girl who goes to spend the summer with her Orthodox Jewish Aunt and her family The religious aspect was not predominant and I didn't really feel like I understood Marne's feelings about religion and God It felt like the author was trying to tackle too many topics at once A kidnapped and missing sister sex religion independence and family relations A little scattered I did enjoy the characters but didn't feel as attached to them as I do with a focused read


  7. says:

    I picked up this book thinking it would be light reading about a teen going to Hawaii for the summer and staying with her religious aunt's family It was a uick read yet it had fantastic depth to it Marne learns to appreciate the beauty of her aunt's family's traditions and faith and she grapples with deep uestions such as why do bad things happen to good people as she copes with her own experiences To the author's credit there are good thoughts without there being pat answers and Marne learns from this religiouscultural exchange without losing herself or her identity


  8. says:

    Very interesting book I picked this book for a project I'm doing in my YA Materials class It's about a secular Jewish girl named Marne who goes to visit her aunt Carole who has changed her named to Chaya and her family in Hawaii She finds out her aunt has married a Chasidic rabbi and has seven children and she gets to know them during her stay She finds out that these Strange Relations as her mother calls them are not so strange and their way of doing things are actually good and something that Marne is interested in doing of in the future During her stay Marne meets a local boy named Jeff whose dad is stationed on the Island and falls for him All is well with them until one night after her best friend Kim comes to visit with her sisters and things start getting out of hand The boys that she is out with offer her beer and pills and then Jeff tries to go to far with her and she ends on running back to her aunt's house to hang out with her family Jeff comes to apologize and explains that his mom ran out on him when he was little and he never knew how to talk to girls and then Marne explains to him about her little sister Jody being kidnapped and them never finding her and how it affected her life They find they have a lot in common and promise to keep in touch once Marne flies back to LA A uick read and I loved learning about the Chasidic Jewish tradition


  9. says:

    What could a 15 year old girl ask for? Marne gets to spend her summer in Hawaii while her parents are away Awesome right? Maybe notMarne's aunt and uncle are Hasidic Jews who have crazy rituals and will try to convert you according to her mother Marne is on guard when she arrives in Hawaii but uickly falls into the routine of a family with 7 kids She helps out with the little ones and uickly becomes a favorite at the Jewish day camp Sabbath proves to be a challenge as Marne finds she is not allowed to wash her hair or play her guitar until sundown on SaturdayMarne works through typical teenage dilemmas while trying to come to grips with her families religiousness But she is really looking for answers to a not so typical teenage problem her little sister Jody was kidnapped and Marne is hoping that having a conversation with God will helpThis was an interesting novel overall But I have to say that the kidnapping of the little sister was uite random No explanation was ever given which may be the point but readers are never told how she was taken or if a ransom was ever demanded Any idea why she was taken? Plus this issue is not resolved at the end


  10. says:

    This was an interesting book about a secular Jewish girl named Marne who spends the summer with her ultra orthodox Hacidic aunt uncle and cousins It was interesting to see how Hacidics view themselves although frankly the book did lend a cult like atmosphere to how the aunt converted from hippiechick to religious zealot upon entering a college religious group and meeting a man she later marries I live in a heavily Jewish area with a high amount of Hacidics and frankly this book really kept out the negativesit talks a lot about the Torah but never mentions Talmudic Law which governs HacidicsTalmudic law dictates that non Jews aren't human and we are placed here for their amusement and it is okay to lie cheat steal from us and even kill us It's a pretty barbaric religion I worked in the wireless industry and battled Hacids making fake insurance claims daily and I wondered how a people who appear so religious could be so deceitfulthat's when I learned about Talmudic law from secular Jews and it fell in to place This book really whitewashes all that and makes it look like their main goal is to bring the secular back to the fold