Confessions of a Closet Catholic
Published by: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: 02/03/2005
Justine Silver's best friend, Mary Catherine McAllister, has given up chocolate for Lent, but Jussy doesn't think God wants her to make that kind of sacrifice. So she's decided to give up being Jewish instead.
Jussy's bedroom closet becomes her confessional as she pours out her sins to her teddy bear, "Father Ted." But when her beloved Bubbe suffers a stroke, Jussy worries that her religious exploration is responsible.
Worse, Jussy must contemplate life without Bubbe, the one person who seems to understand her.
Young readers of every faith will see themselves in Jussy, as she struggles to find balance between her search for religious identity and the dramas of her everyday existence, including boys, life as a tormented middle child, and, of course, the temptations of chocolate.
Winner of the 2006 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers given for excellence in Jewish Children's Literature by the Association of Jewish Libraries
2007 YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults
2006 International Reading Association Children's Choice list
2006 Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best" list
2007 Rhode Island Teen Book award nomination
2006 Michigan Library Association Mitten award nominee
2008 Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee
2008 Rodda Award nominee
"A fine new writer, one who is willing to tackle difficult subjects. Sarah Darer Littman writes with humor and empathy."
"The exploration of faith is the central theme of this book...Justine's world is deeply controlled by her guilt about her faithlessness, about how best to worship G-d, and her turmoil over pleasing her parents. But despite the seemingly profound context, the novel is injected with humor throughout and written with the voice of a contemporary adolescent. Readers can't help but laugh and cry with this winning protagonist"
— School Library Journal
"Funny and tearful"
An "eleven-going-on-twelve-year-old Jewish girl" searches for her identity in this reassuring debut novel about finding one's personal peace-and-comfort zone. Justine, who narrates, has been getting mixed signals about who she's supposed to be all her life. Her father's parents survived the Holocaust and to this day, her grandmother Bubbe keeps kosher. Justine's maternal grandparents, on the other hand, want her to be "Jewish but not 'too Jewish,' " and Justine calls her own parents " 'twice a year' Jews." Justine's best friend, meanwhile, is Catholic-the faith Justine has decided secretly to adopt. Making confession in her bedroom closet to "Father Ted" (her Teddy bear priest), memorizing prayers with rosary beads and pretending to take communion (matzo and grape juice) are some of her rituals. .... Littman gets at the heart of the tug-of-war that goes on between brain and soul as Justine's true personality and value system begin to emerge. The heroine comes across as a likeable kid who tries to make the most informed decisions she can about who she should be-and ultimately embraces who she has been all along. Young readers will find much to savor in the warm, angst-lite tone here, and will likely relate to the universal conflicts and emotional challenges that Littman explores.
"Jussy's confessions are thought-provoking and at times quite humorous. Sarah Darer Littman's first novel is a great book for people of all faiths to read, enjoy, and learn from".
"Religious uncertainty is the topic of this middle-grade novel, as the heroine, a Jewish girl, puzzles over the differences between her family's faith and that of her best friend, who is Catholic. Added to the mix is her Kosher grandmother, who is approaching the end of her life. What ensues is a sincere effort to explore the intricacies of faith - where it can divide us, and where it can draw us closer together".
—Children's Book World
"Justine's experiments with another faith are predicated on her search for answers about her own family's commitment to Judaism, their different practices and outlooks, their social insecurities, and her own search for religious identity. Despite a serious subject, this has the humor and child-appeal of Judy Blume's "Are you there God? It's Me, Margaret" and can be used as a replacement for that slightly outdated classic."
—Association of Jewish Libraries - New & Notable Books for Children