Summary: It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go
It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go is quite the mouthful, but the quirky title encapsulates this book’s nature. Ellie is a young Jewish girl with undiagnosed social anxiety. She gets physically sick — sweaty, lightheaded, shaky, fainting at times — at the thought of being the center of attention, and even worse when her worst fear actually happens. Her latest anxiety trigger is the thought of her fast-approaching bat mitzvah. Ellie is dreading standing up in public, reciting sections of the Torah, lighting candles, and all the other associated rituals. So she co-opts her best friend, Zoe into helping her sabotage the event. The girls do everything from hiding invitations, canceling the venue, and putting off the caterer — and the results are simultaneously sad and funny.
This is a funny book. Ellie has a unique voice and engages in entertaining self-deprecatory humor, like thinking up a different obituary for herself when she thinks she won’t make it out of a stressful social situation alive. It’s also an #OwnVoices social anxiety book; the author has anxiety, and has also worked with a doctor for more thorough research. This book also has a strong Jewish element both culturally and religiously. Ellie is proud of her Jewish heritage, and is part of a strong Jewish community — they even attend another kid’s b’nai mitzvah in the course of the book, besides Ellie’s sister’s.
Speaking of sisters! Ellie and her sister share a sweet relationship, even though they seem so different on the outside. I loved their realistic interactions, and the fact that they’re kind to each other, for the most part. Zoe and Ellie, who are best friends also have a healthy friendship, complete with co-operation and large doses of forgiveness when necessary. I love it when authors reflect the fact that kids can make mistakes in their friendships and work to make things right.
Finally, some extra elements that may appeal to readers: the girls volunteer at the library in the summer, Zoe has a cute dog named Dogzilla, and there’s a fun food fight scene somewhere!
Overall: It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go
It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go is a funny middle-grade book about the perils of navigating life with social anxiety. With a Jewish protagonist, and lots of information about Jewish religion and culture, this book features healthy female friendships, a sweet sister relationship, and overall loving family dynamics. Ultimately, it’s a welcome look at managing anxiety, even if kids have to engage the help of a therapist like Ellie has to in the end.
Buy This Book
What are your favorite book about anxiety? Which books do you recommend with protagonists who are afraid to speak up in social spaces? And what are your favorite Jewish middle-grade books? I’d love to know!
More Middle-Grade Book Reviews
- A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi & Laura Shovan (multicultural/Jewish protagonist/friendship/family focus)
- Broken Strings by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer (Jewish protagonist/holocaust/music)
- Five Things About Ava Andrews by Margaret Dilloway (anxiety/speaking up)
This sounds good! 🙌
I just finished “Every Missing Piece” by Melanie Conklin. The main character has anxiety. It was a good book and I enjoyed it, but I wish the girl in the story had been taken to therapy by her mom and stepdad.
Afoma Umesi says
That one is on my list! I hope I can get around to reading it soon.