Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin
Publishing date: November 19, 2019
Read courtesy of netgalley.com
If we couldn't get more of Denton Little, at least we have Winnie Friedman. Cleverly written story about comedy without being forced and corny -- quite an achievement. Makes me want to start an improv club for my students!
Even though I know a bat mitzvah is for girls and a bar mitzvah is for boys, and the reader is told about the character's bat mitzvah, I still found myself [pleasantly] surprised when I absorbed that the protagonist was a female and not a male. This is a good thing since I was able to break myself from stereotypical thinking early in the story. I think that the character is Jewish also makes for a subtle take on the humor that other ethnicities might not have inherent in their culture, the subtleties between puns and sarcasm, which are so integral to Jewish and Yiddish parlance. In other words, this mix of character development worked very well for this story.
And speaking of inherent ... sporks are inherently funny. Just sayin'...
Teens will relate to the cute humor throughout the story, too. For example, categorizing potential relationships as "hope-will-flirts," "neutral-will-flirts," and "please-don't-flirts" is funny and quite teenager-ish.
While the humor carries the story afloat, the author does an a-ma-zing job of showing a teen's understanding of complicated adult conversations. Winnie's father has ALS, and the subject is handled honestly from the patient-, the parent, and the family-perspectives. All of the characters are treated with equal humanness and not made into oversimplified caricatures.
The few criticisms I have do not deter from the 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ or the story. There are just a few times where the writing is too PC or 'too' inclusive just to fit in with the contemporary times....Jews, hijabs, and trigger warnings. There are also some contemporary references that might date the book before it's ready to be a thing of the past: Polly-O string cheese (specifically Polly-O), the TV show Parks and Rec, Totes McGotes, and FOMO.
Regardless, I loved this book and cannot wait to get it for my high school library!