Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Meet Rebecca

With the purchase of my Rebecca doll came the first book of her series. It is a children's book, but I decided to read it anyway!

Meet Rebecca introduces American Girl's newest character, Rebecca Rubin, who, according to American Girl's description, is "a lively girl with dramatic flair growing up in New York City" in 1914. Rebecca's parents and grandparents are Russian Jews who immigrated to America before she was born, but Rebecca's aunt, uncle, and cousins are still behind in Russia, where World War I is already underway.

Rebecca is the second to the youngest in her family, and often feels left out by her older siblings, who often treat her as though she is too young to include. Rebecca wants to prove herself to her family so she can be included in the more "grown-up" things as well. She comes up with a plan to earn money in order to buy her own candlesticks to light on Shabbos, to prove she is not so little and incapable.

However, when she finds out that her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Russia need money to escape to America, she begins to reevaluate her motives. Will she make the right choice between proving herself and helping her family? Will she find her rightful place in her family?

Meet Rebecca is a fun, well-written book carrying the flavor of the original American Girl books. At first I wasn't happy with Rebecca at all because she seemed so selfish, and I was annoyed by the typical "snobby older sisters" and "parents who don't understand" scenario. However, as the story moved along, I was glad to see Rebecca coming to realize the things that are more important in life.

The historical aspect of the story was also very interesting. Set in 1914, the book talks about the young days of the moving picture and also sheds some light on the difficulties the Jews faced in Russia during World War I. The Rubin family is Jewish, and the book talks a lot about their customs, particularly their observation of the Sabbath, though it doesn't get into the doctrine. I was pleased to read, in the "Looking Back" section, a mention of the Creation week (talking about God resting on the seventh day.) The theme of the story is also one that we should incorporate in our daily lives: looking beyond ourselves to do acts of kindness for others.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the first book of the Rebecca Rubin series, and I am sure many young girls will enjoy reading them. It is only five chapters long and the writing style is very basic, so it will only take an hour or two to read through!

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