Review: It's My Party and I Don't Want To Go

It's My Party and I Don't Want To Go by Amanda Panitch

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Rachel Simon

Ellie Katz has a plan. Well, many plans.

Her bat mitzvah is coming up and she does not want to have it. Sometimes she can’t breathe when she has to do things in front of people, like when she went up to light the candles at her sister’s bat mitzvah two years ago. She can’t imagine having to read from the Torah, say the blessings, and give a speech at her own bat mitzvah.

So together with her best friend Zoe, Ellie devises ways to make sure her bat mitzvah doesn’t happen. From canceling the venue to shocking the DJ to starting a food fight to deter the caterer, Ellie’s sure her bat mitzvah won’t go through. But when her parents find out what is going on and she and Zoe get into a fight, Ellie finds a way to make sure she does her bat mitzvah...her way.

This middle grade book examines the themes of the Jewish rite of passage of becoming a woman in the community, growing up, friendship, social anxiety and getting the help you need. Ellie often describes in slapstick ways manners in which she might die from anxiety. The book has a lot of wonderful Jewish aspects to it, from joining USY’s youth group to the various b’nai mitzvot Ellie and her friends attend. It’s My Party and I Don’t Want To Go meets the criteria for the Sydney Taylor Award and would be a fun notable book.

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Reviewer Rachel Simon is a youth services library assistant at the Newton Free Library in Newton, MA. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award committee. She has her M.L.I.S. and Master’s in Children’s Literature from Simmons University.