Before anything, I must say “mazels” to Carin Davis. She’s an award-winning feature writer and singles columnist for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, has a “real job” as a vice-president of an an animation company and somehow found the time to write Life, Love, Lox: Real-World Advice for the Modern Jewish Girl (Running Press Paperback Original, May 2010; $13.95). It’s more than I could do. It’s more than most of us could do.
The Jewish Daily Forward’s Sisterhood blog says the book “gives the type of advice Carrie Bradshaw might give — but with a Jewish twist.” And I’d have to agree. Davis, like the fictional Bradshaw (beloved narrator/main character of the highly-successful and long-running Sex and the City) dishes out her witty advice in that same conversational tone that feels like one girlfriend talking to another.
The book is super approachable – cute (complete with a heart “heksher” on the back cover) but not so over the top that it feels kitschy. Davis hits on all the “biggies”: keeping kosher, life-cycle events, synagogue, community involvement, headcoverings (and advice for tackling the Jew-fro), dating, Shabbat, high holydays and minor holidays and even includes a “Hebonics Glossary” for those of us who either didn’t go to Hebrew school or don’t remember anything from it. Witty remarks are sprinkled freely throughout and are entertaining without becoming annoying.
Shortcomings? Yes – there are some.
The book is billed as inviting to “observant to ‘Jew-ish” women alike,” and that’s probably true – its light-hearted approach is certainly not going to turn many off. But the simplified and humorous approach to rituals will probably leave the observant gal wishing for a bit more. And for those who lean more Jew-ish, LLL is a good starter but definitely not a complete handbook. The chapter on Chanukah (“The Festival of Lights. And Presents.”), reminds readers how to light the menorah (“Don’t use each candle to light the next; instead use the shamas to light all the others. Like a party-hopping fool, the shamas will go from candle to candle and make sure every one gets lit.”) and mentions that brachot are recited but doesn’t include them or let the reader know where to go to look them up in case they’ve been forgotten.
And I think there’s a word missing from the subtitle: single. Life, Love, Lox is definitely written for the SINGLE modern Jewish girl. Davis points out opportunities to meet a nice Jewish boy in just about every situation she covers – like in her rundown of what to expect during Rosh Hashanah services: “Heads-up: Most rabbis like to squeeze their sermon in at the end of Shacharit. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….If you’re not in the mood for learning, head to the lobby for some flirting. There’ll be plenty of other single Jews skipping class out there.” Does that mean it’s not funny for those in a relationship? Nope. Just not as relevant to those lucky enough to have found love.
The Verdict? If you take it for what it is (girlfriend to girlfriend advice for being a Jewy girl in a modern world), Life, Love, Lox delivers. And it would make a great gift for a little sister heading off to college or for your brother’s adorable shiksa girlfriend (the one that you actually want to become part of your family).
*The FTC made me do it: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of the book for free in the hope that I would mention it on TC Jewfolk. But getting the book for free doesn’t mean that I was obligated to give a glowing review. I wouldn’t recommend anything that I don’t think you’d enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Blah, blah, blah…
Filed Under: Arts & Culture