Graf­fiti, sex and bagels

The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts & Entertainment - BY AN­GELA KIVERSTEIN

A DRA­MAT­I­CALLY graf­fiti-ed door is the cover im­age for Il­le­gal, by Miriam

(Mead­ow­side, £6.99). Be­hind it, we find Lindy, trapped in a dys­func­tional fam­ily and a ter­ri­fy­ing job wa­ter­ing plants on a cannabis farm. Lindy is soon “pro­moted” to more sin­is­ter du­ties but, if any­one can save her, it will be Karl. At school, he is con­sid­ered a “re­tard”, be­cause he doesn’t speak. But Karl has un­ex­pected depths. And when he ar­rives on his mo­tor­bike, like Lindy, we are swept off our feet. Age 11 up­wards. It has bagels — and sex. Some­times in the same para­graph, noch. And

The Odyssey of Sa­muel Glass (David Paul, £14.99) is set in Muswell Hill and Hoop Lane, as well as in 19th-cen­tury Rus­sia, with a rab­bini­cal guide and the ghost of Anne Frank. If that’s not the recipe for a per­fect Jewish com­ing-of-age novel, what is? (Yes, of course there is chicken soup as well.)

Sa­muel Glass is 17 and can hardly open his mouth with­out ut­ter­ing a lit­er­ary quo­ta­tion, much like the poly­glot hero of Jack Rosen­thal’s Bar­mitz­vah Boy and just as en­gag­ing. Un­able to get over his fa­ther’s death, Sa­muel trav­els back in time to search for the mean­ing of life, as you do. For all ages, teen to grand­par­ents.

Video-game fans will go berserk for BZRK, by Michael Grant (Eg­mont, £12.99). Noah and Sadie are re­cruited by the BZRK or­gan­i­sa­tion to fight for hu­mans’ right to re­tain their in­di­vid­u­al­ity. The war is fought with mi­nus­cule ro­bots; the bat­tle­field is the hu­man body. These tiny tech­noter­ror­ists are an in­ge­nious take on real-life de­vices al­ready used for some hospi­tal pro­ce­dures. Amid the gore, there is a lit­tle ro­mance and many en­gag­ing quirks — for in­stance, BZRK mem­bers all adopt the names of fa­mous in­sane peo­ple Noah be­comes Keats; Sadie is Plath. Age 12 up­wards. Look out too for Fear, the lat­est in Grant’s Gone se­ries. The ti­tle and the eerie glow of the pur­ple page-edges say it all.

In Strings At­tached, by Judy Blun­dell (Scholas­tic, £7.99), Kit Cor­ri­gan longs for Broad­way star­dom, but first she must re­pay a favour to a mob­ster. Blun­dell’s prose is as soignée as the young women in her im­mac­u­late 1950s back­drop. Age 12 up­wards.


Ca­ress­ing com­mu­nism: a Czech woman kisses a sol­dier from the lib­er­at­ing Rus­sian army, Prague, May 5 1945


Bernard Kops’s

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