The main character is Amy, a 16 year old who is very insecure but pretends otherwise. She's the result of a one night stand and her father has never been around. Her mom is a serial dater and Amy has never truly felt like she belongs anywhere. She is a fairly bratty city girl who hates the idea of being away from civilisation. So when her father suddenly takes her to meet his family back in Israel, at what is basically a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere, she's more than a little put out!! But that trip changes Amy and starts her out on a whole new path.
I love how Amy develops over the course of these three books, along with her relationships with those around her, her friends, boyfriend and her parents. The books almost made me cry a few times, much to my surprise and they're certainly emotional roller coasters. But there are so many laugh out loud moments as well!! I could barely put any of the three books down. Amy is very good at making mountains out of mole hills and creating drama when none is required. But it's all a defense mechanism. Amy's so often doing the wrong things for the right reasons, and its easy to understand why she is how she is.
I found Amy really irritating to start with, but by the end of book one I loved her. I thoroughly enjoyed some of the side characters as well, although a few of them are a little flat at times. Plot wise things sometimes get a little bit crazy, but it's all so much fun and so well told that it's hard to care. Most of it has a serious side as well, there are moments that really tugged at me emotionally, and those moments easily make up for any of the parts that are a little less than great. Romance plays a pretty big role in the story, it's perfectly played with simmering tension and some very steamy kisses.
I'd recommend all of Simone's books because they're all fantastic and these were no exception! If you've tried any of her books and loved them, you should love these too. If you've not tried her books yet, then these are as good a place as any to start!
Series overall rating: 8/10
Book 1: How To Ruin a Summer Vacation
"Moshav? What's a moshav? Is it "shopping mall" in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I'd be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home."
Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, "moshav" is not Hebrew for "shopping mall." Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci.
Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She's got a serious grudge against the "Sperm Donor" for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he's dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she's never known, where she'll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she'll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom with seven people all summer - no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone...
Goodbye pride - hello Israel.Book 2: How To Ruin My Teenage Life
What's a girl to do when EVERYONE is conspiring to ruin her life???
My name is Amy Nelson-Barak and I'm seventeen years old. Here's my life right now: new step-dad, new step-sib on the way, new living sitch with my real dad (resulting in annoying new neighbor boy). Real boyfriend inconveniently living in different country (Israel). Forced entry into job market due to small misunderstanding re: my dad's credit care plus romantic indiscretions of one very irresponsible (but adorable) dog.
Book 3: How To Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation
Yes, it's me - Amy Nelson-Barak. I've volunteered for ten days of military training in Israel with my friends. The Sababa brochure said it would be a "fun" summer experience. Okay, so I didn't sign up to prove I'm not a princess...I did it to surprise my hot Israeli boyfriend stationed at the same base.
Too bad nobody told me:
- It's hot in the Negev desert...like, so hot your makeup melts off and you get under-boob sweat spots.
- You can't sleep until 11 a.m.
- You shouldn't kill bees with your flatiron - don't ask.
- Peeing in a hole isn't easy (when you're a girl) - double don't ask.
When I find out our team leader is my boyfriend Avi, I'm totally psyched...until I learn he has to treat me like all the other recruits. Can you say OY YEY!