Review: Honey and Me

Honey and Me

by Meira Drazin

Scholastic, 2022

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Jacqueline Jules

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We meet eleven-year-old Milla on a Saturday morning as she follows Honey through the men’s section of their Orthodox synagogue. The two girls are long-time friends and neighbors. Milla loves spending time at Honey’s house with her large bustling family and easy-going mother. Even though they are only a few months apart in age, Milla looks up to Honey, admiring her social skills, even with adults. In the opening scene, Milla reflects that she would never have the chutzpah to ask an adult for what she wants the way Honey does. Later in the story, Milla compares her own outlook to Honey’s: “where I see roadblocks, she see different routes, or that a roadblock might really only be those orange traffic cones that can simply be picked up and moved away.”

Milla’s reluctance to assert herself is an important part of this friendship story. Milla worries that she is like the willow in the lulav on Sukkot—the component with no taste or smell. As she matures during her first year of middle school and prepares for her Bat Mitzvah, Milla comes to understand her own strengths. She also finds the courage to redefine her relationship with her domineering mother.

In her Author’s Note, Meira Drazin writes about how books like Anne of Green Gables and The Penderwicks sparked her desire to write a similar book which showed “the importance and magnitude of small dramas in everyday life—but with contemporary Jewish characters.” In Honey and Me, the author accomplishes this beautifully. Jewish observance is woven seamlessly throughout the novel. Most importantly, Judaism is portrayed as a joyful part of the characters’ lives. Milla and Honey’s community is Orthodox. Men and women have separate sections in the synagogue. But women are still recognized as intellectuals. At a holiday meal, a female scholar is asked by the father of the household to give a dvar Torah.

Honey and Me meets the criteria of the Sydney Taylor Book Award by presenting positive, authentic Jewish content. Jewish holidays and Orthodox Jewish customs are explained as if the first person narrator is speaking directly to the reader. For example, “Anyway, not only is Purim super fun, but it makes us Orthodox kids feel less weird about the fact that we don’t celebrate Halloween.” Some Jewish young readers will see themselves in this book. Others will learn more about their Jewish heritage. Every reader will be enriched.

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Reviewer Jacqueline Jules is the author of fifty books for young readers including The Porridge-Pot Goblin, The Hardest Word, Picnic at Camp Shalom, Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva, Light the Menorah: A Hanukkah Handbook, and Never Say a Mean Word Again. Her middle grade verse novel, My Name is Hamburger, is a PJ Our Way selection. She lives on Long Island and enjoys talking long walks along the water. Visit her online