All Three Stooges

Erica S. Perl. Knopf, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-399-55175-8

Twelve-year-old Noah Cohen loves spending time with his best friend Dash and Dash’s father, who turn sleepovers into raucous comedy nights. Noah and Dash are both preparing for their bar mitzvahs, and Noah is dismayed to discover that his is scheduled for the same day as the bat mitzvah of Noa Cohen, his homophonic Hebrew school nemesis. But when Dash’s father commits suicide, Dash withdraws completely, leaving Noah desperate to reconnect with him. After Noah finds Dash’s missing phone, he holds onto it, reading and responding to several of Dash’s text messages, a violation that results in Noah’s bar mitzvah being postponed and much soul searching with help from his rabbi, older sister, and two mothers. Perl (The Capybara Conspiracy) has created a moving coming-of-age journey steeped in Jewish traditions and comedic history, elegantly balancing humor with an honest look at the impact of suicide. While the book’s many references to famous comedy routines may not be instantly funny to those unfamiliar with them, Noah’s genuine voice and tricky situation will have readers pulling for him. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Carrie Hannigan, Hannigan Salky Getzler. (Jan.) [/em]