Aviva vs. the Dybbuk

Aviva vs. the Dybbuk cover
Aviva vs. the Dybbuk by Mari Lowe

By Mari Lowe
Levine Querido, 2022
171 pages

Ages 9-13

Next to the synagogue, in the building that houses the mikvah (ritual bath), Aviva lives with her mother, Ema, and a dybbuk—visible only to Aviva—who delights in wreaking minor havoc. Ema, who used to teach at Aviva’s Orthodox girls’ school, has struggled with severe depression since the death of Aviva’s father six years prior. Left mostly to fend for herself at home, Aviva feels isolated and lonely at school as well; after her father’s death, she had a falling out with her best friend, Kayla. During a machanayim game at recess, a tense incident involving the two girls results in a classmate’s injury. As punishment, Aviva and Kayla are ordered to work together to drum up excitement for their class’s upcoming mother-daughter Bas Mitzvah Bash. In spending time together, the two rekindle their friendship. The discovery of an underwater door in the mikvah—which, after draining the tub, the girls open to discover a passageway leading to the synagogue—and the antics of the mischievous dybbuk inspire them to create a spooky scavenger hunt for the girls at the Bash. Meanwhile, a swastika etched in wet concrete in front of the synagogue has the community on alert; later, when the synagogue is ransacked, Aviva senses traumatic, repressed memories beginning to surface. A captivating tale of grief and loss counters terrifying instances of antisemitism with the comfort and love of Orthodox Jewish life and community. ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center