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How to Ruin a Summer Vacation Paperback – October 8, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8-10–Amy Nelson is a stereotypical spoiled teen who has stereotypical plans for her summer vacation: shopping, friends, boyfriend. Then, out of nowhere, her long-absent father calls to inform her that the grandmother whom she has never met is ill and that Amy needs to go to Israel to meet her. Before the teen can say, But I'm not even Jewish! she is on an Israeli moshav sharing a room with a cousin who hates her for being a spoiled American, lusting after a brooding older boy on the verge of his mandatory military service, and learning more than she ever thought possible about her faith, her family, their history, and their present. The characters are stock, and the lessons Amy learns are expected, but readers are still drawn into her story. The lightness of the narrative sometimes belies the depth of the topics on which it touches, but it is true to the manner in which many American teens would encounter these issues. Best for avid readers of realistic, high school dramedy.–Morgan Johnson-Doyle, Sierra High School, Colorado Springs, CO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Funny, sharp dialogue keeps the teen conversations fresh and true to life."

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Flux (October 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738709611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738709611
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simone Elkeles is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Perfect Chemistry series, Leaving Paradise series and How to Ruin series. Simone is super excited about her newest series, Wild Cards. All three books in the Perfect Chemistry series have been YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named Simone 2008 Author of the Year. Simone's funny way of looking at the world shines through in novels that are bursting with sarcastic wit, edgy characters, and exhilarating drama. You can find her at

Be sure to check out Simone's book trailers at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Delisle on September 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Simone Elkeles has a winner in her first novel, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation. Young readers will love the spunkiness of Amy, the story's heroine, and adults will appreciate her humility as she matures during her three month stay in Israel.
When I first saw the book, I thought it was going to be another tired story about a spoiled adolescent not getting her way. How to Ruin a Summer Vacation is NOT that at all, instead, it is a hilarious coming-of-age tale that has a very positive message about tolerance and self-esteem.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on November 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
All Amy Nelson wanted was to have a regular summer. To spend time with her best friend, Jessica, and her new boyfriend. But that won't happen for Amy by a long shot. It seems that her estranged father wants her to go back to Israel with him to visit her grandmother. Sure, going to Israel may seem exciting to most people, but not for Amy. Not when there are wars going on and the fact that she has to go with a man that she hardly knows. The one good thing that may come from this is the coolest fashions that her best friend is always telling her about.

Before she knows it, Amy's mother makes her go and she's on the next plane to Israel. Things couldn't get any worse for Amy at this point; well, actually they can. When she arrives, Amy sees something totally different then what she would see at home in Chicago. There seems to be soldiers and guards at every corner. Not only that, but Amy just discovered that she isn't sleeping in a fancy hotel, but more like an old house, with one bathroom and seven other people that she's never met. Then there's her cousin Snotty, I mean Osnat, who seems to hate Amy the moment she sees her, and the no-shirt cute-jerk, Avi, who Amy happens to see everywhere she turns. If only she could just get him out of her mind. There's also her aba, or grandmother, that for someone she hardly knows, Amy discovers there's a deep connection between the two of them.

With an entirely new family and obnoxious people in a totally different country, it seems like this might be the craziest summer yet for Amy.

HOW TO RUIN A SUMMER VACATION, no doubt, was the greatest book I've read in a long time. Not only does the basis of the book pull you in, but the cast of characters all charm their way into your heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ok, before I start reviewing the book I have to say a couple of things a bout Israel. I live in Israel. My mom lived in the US for 20 years and moved to Israel because of my dad, therefore I read only english books and speak english better then I speak hebrew.. Sad I know. I started reading this book knowing it will be fun reading about a book that is about Israel and America. About Israeli's and American's being together. While I was reading this book I understood that the author didn't really know many things about Israel. Understandable. But when you write a book you need to make sure you have all the right facts. So before I tell you what I thought about the book I have to clarify some things that bothered me throughout the book.

first of all, in the twenty first century teenagers name's aren't usually Osnat, Ofra. It's more like: Maya, Mia, Noa, Dana, Natalie...

2. I am 19, which means that I am a soldier.We, soldires, are not, I repeat, are NOT bodyguards or work in any security company. We do not stand in airports with guns, outside of clubs (which we don't call disco- number three of the list that bothered me) checking I.D's and being called when there's a fight- That is for the police to take care of.
What we REALLY do is: guard our country. Not the clubs or hotels, but the country itself! So reading about soldiers being like bodyguards just had me wanting to explain to you all that it's not true.

3. We don't say disco anymore. My dad didn't even say disco when he was a teen. Just wanted to clarify things.

4. People don't lick one another at clubs. It's just wrong and gross!
Now about the book:
I, actually, really liked it. When I started reading it I thought it will be horrible, but I instantly liked it and read it in one sitting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CS on January 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Sixteen-year-old Amy Nelson is looking forward to her summer vacation until her absent father calls with news her grandmother in Israel is sick. He sends Amy a plane ticket and in no time she has left her priviledged American life behind to discover another culture.

At the beginning, Amy does not believe she can spend three months with family she's never met and a dad she barely knows. She rebels and is quite angry, but her father and family are persistent, and slowly she adapts to her surroundings.

Since Amy has such a new relationship with her father, and is in a country with family who are strangers, it's almost like the reader is discovering herself and her life at the same time she is.

Amy is a strong, opinionated, and outspoken teenage character. She is compelled to speak her mind, and sometimes her big mouth gets her into trouble and hurts the ones she loves most. Despite this, she has a good heart and her thoughts only come from the frustration of her chaotic life, and the feelings she experiences are justified given her circumstances.

Some parts felt a little forced, and the emotional scenes didn't connect me to the characters as much as they could have. I saw the potential though, and where the book was heading.

How To Ruin a Summer Vacation is a worthwhile read that touches on themes like finding yourself, new love, and accepting change. Fans will have fun seeing what kind of trouble Amy gets into next in the sequel, How to Ruin My Teenage Life.
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