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Sons of the 613 Kindle Edition

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Length: 323 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The book begins and ends with two excruciating events. The first: a bar mitzvah boy with food poisoning vomits all over the bimah. The final episode is not unexpected but heart wrenching. In between, there is chaos. Isaac is not the barfer, but his ceremony is fast approaching, and he’s freaked out. When Isaac’s parents leave on a trip three weeks before the event, 20-year-old Josh, a recent college dropout, is put in charge of brother Isaac and their younger sister. (BTW, no mother decides to vacation a few weeks before a bar mitzvah, but as a plot device, it works.) Isaac’s raunchy, riotous first-person telling describes how hot-tempered Josh decides to help Isaac really become a man. There are tests of strength, will, and courage, though some are decidedly inside out. There’s first love, first kisses, first fights, friendships made and friendships broken, a fire, and a party to end all parties. Rubens, a former producer for The Daily Show, neatly gets inside Isaac’s head, and although there’s something to offend almost everyone here, there’s also plenty to think—and laugh—about. Grades 8-10. --Ilene Cooper


"This is a book every bar-mitzvah boy will want to steal . . . Everyone should read it the moment he becomes a man."
Kirkus, starred review

"Rubens creates a funny, frank portrayal of adolescent humiliation and the trouble with older brothers."
Publishers Weekly

"Rubens neatly gets inside Isaac's head, and although there's something to offend almost everyone here, there's also plenty to think—and laugh—about as well."

"Rubens captures the nerdy geekiness of middle-school-aged boys in short and snappy, cleverly formatted chapters rich with sarcasm, humor, and pathos."
School Library Journal

Product Details

  • File Size: 623 KB
  • Print Length: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 1 edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Publication Date: September 11, 2012
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008P98ANM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,310,370 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved Sons of the 613. It's just a great read that is sure to entertain teens and adults alike. The author is able to achieve the perfect level of authenticity with Isaac's narrative voice. I never doubted him, or his reactions for a second. As a parent of a 13 year old boy, I found myself commiserating with Isaac, feeling his pain, his fear, and his heartbreak. I wanted to yell at his parents for going off and leaving him in the care of an older brother who was clearly not stable, and then by the end I found myself feeling glad that they did. At times I was laughing out loud, and other times it was almost too painful to read. This book takes place over a relatively short period of time, and Isaac does a surprising amount of growing up.

Isaac learns a lot of valuable lessons during his adventures. Does he learn them in a socially acceptable, parental approved way? Certainly not. There is a lot of language here, sexual situations, underage drinking, and overall violence. Isaac goes to bars, strip clubs, pool halls, and braves the urban version of his own spirit quest all on his way to his Bar Mitzvah. This is a bit too intense for my 13 year old, but I will probably give it to him in a couple of years and enjoy his reactions as he reads about Isaac meeting his first "city" black person, finding himself in a room full of naked women, and falling in love with an older woman.

Sons of the 613 will make you laugh and break your heart all within its 305 pages. Fine writing, spot on characterizations and a fast paced plot make this a natural choice for teens - just maybe the slightly older variety.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fairbanks Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sons of the 613 by Michael Rubens is a coming of age story centered around the bar mitzvah of Isaac. Isaac is a good student and a more or less typical 13 year old geek. His parents are indifferent Jews living in Minnesota. Isaac's training to read his Hebrew portion has been handed off to an Israeli tutor. The tutor has not been showing up and Isaac has been more interested in Dungeons and Dragons and playing with his XBox so he is less than ready for the big day only three weeks off. Isaac's parent tell him that they are both going to Italy for the next couple of weeks and that Isaac's older brother, Josh, will take care of the house, Isaac and his little sister.

Josh is extraordinarily intelligent and is serious about his being a Jew. A Bar Mitzvah marks the transition from being a boy into becoming a man and Josh takes that as his real goal. Bringing Isaac up to speed on his Hebrew is important but not the real core of his mission. What Josh intends is to show Isaac how to be a real man. Josh is a huge, athletic brawler, a wrestling champion who has never lost a match. So Josh sets out to toughen Isaac and expand his world. Needless to say there are many missteps along the way, some by Isaac and some by Josh and in the end Isaac does learn a lot about being a man.

This is a very funny and engaging bit of young adult fiction. It is a more or less accurate account of what it is like to be a 13 year old boy and well-suited to readers of that age.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Argie on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I loved Michael Rubens' first novel, a sort of Doug Adams sci-fi humor book with the impossible title of Sheriff of Yrnameer (that's another story), so I picked up "Sons of the 613", his second novel as soon as it came out and like the first novel it's a great read and a real page turner. Don't let the cover fool you, it doesn't tell the whole story. The book is not only gritty and funny, but also an endearing, poignant coming of age story about loyalty, friendship, and trust that will appeal to Young Adults and those of us decades past that era.

The story follows Isaac, age 13, days before his Bar Mitzvah who's forced to undergo a "rite of passage" that only an older brother with issues of his own could concoct-- ostensibly to make Isaac a man. ("613" is not an area code as I first thought but the number of commandments in the Old Testament that scaffold the book in one way or another). Isaac is a gentle bookish kid whose life up to that time has revolved around his three best guy friends (his "peeps"), the non-Jewish girl at school who leaves him tongue-tied, and his nemesis Sarah who's always showing up at exactly the wrong time. His older brother Josh is a character straight from the Chesty Puller "how-to" manual, "Pain is weakness leaving the body!"

Under Josh's tutelage Isaac experiences a series of trials that all of us, young or old, should brace ourselves against at all times. The action is hard-hitting, non-stop, silly, but not always fun. Younger readers will go places beyond their experience meeting characters with a menacing aura of mystery, other times deliciously sexy, caring beings, people who suffer loss. Isaac soon learns that love, wisdom, and allies can be found among the most unlikely people in the most unlikely places. I won't forget Isaac. He's an inspirational character transformed into a deeply touching young man shaped by fire into a self-possessed, empowered young adult, an adult all of us wish to be at one time or another.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on July 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was pleasantly surprised by Sons of 613, a coming-of-age story about Issac, who's about to have his bar mitzvah in a few weeks, but hasn't learned his haftorah portion yet, a secret he's been keeping from his parents. When his parents decide to go to Italy several weeks before his bar mitzvah and leave him with his older brother Josh, Josh puts Issac through a life-altering "quest," a series of experiences ranging from hilarious to frightening which include jumping off a cliff, going to a stripper bar, playing pool with a black guy Issac thinks is a drug dealer, and more. The book is a mix of laugh-out-loud gross-out boy humor about breasts, puking, etc. and more serious content about his mysterious brother's hot-headed personality. Although as a former bar mitzvah mom I can't believe the premise of the parents leaving town before the big day, once you get past accepting that part it's a memorable story about what "becoming a man" is all about. I especially enjoyed the character of Josh, who as an undefeated wrestler, hot-headed fighter, and generally cool guy, is completely against type for Jewish teen novels. The author Michael Rubens is a former producer of the Jon Stewart show.
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