Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Oy, Joy! by Lucy Frank


So in case you missed it, I'm doing an experiment where I'm rereading some of my favorite books from my teen years and seeing how they hold up. So far, most of them do! (Which has, obviously, cemented my belief that I have *sniff* unparalleled taste in books-- at least, when it comes to being consistently true to my own pretentious self bwahahaha.) It's a fun opportunity because some of them have fallen out of print, like this one, and it's a great way to spread awareness of some of my old faves.

I think I actually bought OY, JOY! at one of those Scholastic book fairs back in the day. It's such a great book-- it reminds me a lot of Meg Cabot. It's set in New York and the heroine is Jewish and an artist, and she has one of the most authentic teen voices I remember reading when I was a kid. Her freak-outs, her love for her family, her obsessions with boys and what her friends are doing? All totally legit. Also, she has a goth/punk friend named Maple who wears pretty cool outfits. Orange lace tops? Turquoise hair? She sounds like a total bad-ass.

The real show-stealer in this book is actually the comedy relief and the source of all the tension: Joy's Uncle Max. After Max suffers from some health issues, the family decides that he's going to move in with them, taking his smelly terrier, Sarge, in, too. Uncle Max is a stubborn, old-fashioned, set-in-his-ways codger and a total busy-body, which leads to some downright comical scenes involving nosedrops, a coffee mug, and the Worst First Date Ever.

Sometimes when I reread an old fave, I still like it for nostalgia's sake but I can admit that it doesn't age all that well. OY, JOY! ages super well, though. I think I like the heroine even more now than I did as a kid because I have a more nuanced view of all the characters (including the adult ones), and why she and Maple end up having a falling out in the first place. If you are able to get your hands on a copy of this book, do. Mine's falling apart because of how many times I reread it as a kid. It's just really great.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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