Book Review: Glixman in a Fix by Rebecca Klempner (Menucha Publishers, Inc. 2017, 280 pp.)
Reviewed by Rosally Saltsman
“You know how things with family are weird sometimes,” says Mendel Glixman, the protagonist of Glixman in a Fix. And he’s right. All his friends are having some kind of problem with their families. But Mendel’s problems seem to intensify when his mother’s hoarding literally reaching new heights and his favorite aunt and her family disappear without a trace.
In this original mystery novel for tweens, written in an engaging and somewhat addicting style, Glixman in a Fix tells the story of Mendel Glixman who, while struggling to keep ahead of his schoolwork, and make friends in his new school, also has to deal with a school bully, a social worker’s investigation and government agents and spies. But he’s, so to speak, holding the cards to solving everyone’s problems. Helped by his smart sister Yehudis, his friends Ari and Ilan, and his geometry teacher, Mendel gets out of a really tough fix.
This novel was originally serialized over a year in Binah BeTween. I personally couldn’t have waited that long for the ending, having read the book in one day.
Besides riveting its audience of young tween readers, this mystery manages to teach some lessons in emunah, hashgacha pratis and ahavas yisrael but not in a heavy-handed way. It imparts some good lessons and values that kids can take with them into their own lives like organization, acceptance, friendship, and knowing when to consult an adult when things get out of hand.
One of the issues addressed in the book is a new kid at school who happens to be black. I’m so used, living in Israel, to seeing black religious Jews that I don’t even give it a second thought. The fact that Mendel’s classmates do pay more attention than necessary tells me that Klempner is trying to bring attention to a problem that exists in America. In fact, accepting differences and showing empathy to everyone with their own struggle is an underlying theme of the book. But everyone seems to find common ground at Blue Mooin’ the neighborhood ice-cream parlor with a name that more than milks the joke.
While I’m glad that by the end of the book, things are back to normal in the Glixman household, I’m hoping that Rebecca Klempner comes up with some new adventures for Mendel and his pals and a new mystery to solve. And I, for one, want to be the first to read it!