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Isaac Blum Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Judgment of Yoyo Gold (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Isaac Blum
Isaac Blum is an educator and a writer. He has taught English at several universities and colleges, and at public and Orthodox Jewish schools.

He lives with his wife in Philadelphia where he watches sports and reads books which make him laugh and show him something true about the world.

When Isaac sat down to write “The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen”, in December of 2019, he believed that he was writing about worlds colliding, violent antisemitism, forbidden love, and betrayal. It’s the story of Hoodie Rosen, a Jewish teen that has to figure out where, or even if, he fits in his family, the outside world, and his community.

He also believed it was an important novel in terms of identity and representation, since there are few representations of Orthodox Judaism in mainstream young literature. Books like “The Last Words We Said” by Leah Scheier and “Like No Other” by Una LaMarche. So Isaac believed he was making a contribution there, centering an Orthodox teen in a way that would reflect an Orthodox experience and open a window for others into an observant Jewish World.

Two years after writing the novel, he got a blurb from Vesper Stamper which changed the way that he saw his own book. She said that his novel gives the common yet often-dismissed spiritual journey of many teens the respect that it deserves. And it got him thinking about the story in a totally different way.

It got him thinking about the difference between religious and cultural identity. As he was writing the novel, he’d been thinking of these two things as a packaged deal, a pair of matching items which are always sold together. However he started to read through the story again, and followed them as separate stories, two separate threads which do not necessarily have to be wound around one another.

It was also important that this be a young adult novel. He’s spent much of his adult life working as a middle and high school teacher. And he’s consistently impressed by his students’ earnest interest in different backgrounds and cultures. It’s not just that they’re tolerant, but they’re genuinely wanting to learn about people that are different from them, who see the world through different lenses, and who come from different places.

He wanted to center the story around teen characters that work to understand one another as well as their communities. Even though their relationship has got its ups and downs, Hoodie and Anna-Marie build a strong friendship. They help each other overcome community-based and personal trauma and work to understand each other better.

Isaac also wanted to contrast his teenaged characters with their more obstinate parents, since adults who are (at best) set in their ways and (at worst) intolerant and bigoted.

He wanted the novel to reflect his own earnest belief in children. He believes that they can be much better than the adults around them, and that they are going to be interested in reading a book about a community that most know close to nothing about. This is also the sort of literature which helps tolerant young adults become proactive and activist adults that’ll fight against the unnecessary bias and hate that the rest of us have failed to eradicate.

Being a high school teacher is a fantastic job if you’re going to write YA fiction. Because whether you want to or not, as a teacher you learn so much about the worlds of your students. And if you ever forgot what it is truly like to be a teen, you get reminded of it every single day. And if you happen to be writing a book from the perspective of an Orthodox yeshiva student, it definitely helps if you spend your days surrounded by Orthodox yeshiva students.

Even though it’s not based on his students, since that wouldn’t be fair to them, it is absolutely influenced by them: their struggles to balance tradition with modernity, their fears of antisemitism and the way the rest of the world sees them, and their sense of humor and humanity.

“The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2022. The Chosen meets Adam Silvera in this timely and irreverent story about worlds colliding in betrayal, friendship, and hatred.

Hoodie Rosen’s life ain’t too bad. Sure, his whole Orthodox Jewish community has picked up and moved to the quiet, mainly non-Jewish town of Tregaron, however Hoodie’s world has not changed too much. He has studies to avoid, basketball to play, and a supermarket filled with delicious kosher snacks to eat. The people of Tregaron are not all that happy that so many Orthodox Jews are moving in at the same time, however that isn’t Hoodie’s problem.

That is, until he meets and ends up falling for Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary, who just happens to be the daughter of the obstinate mayor that’s trying to keep Hoodie’s community out of the town. And things just get more complex when Tregaron gets struck by a series of antisemitic crimes which quickly escalate to deadly violence.

While his community turns on him for siding with the enemy, Hoodie soon finds himself being caught between the only world that he’s ever known and his first love.

Isaac Blum delivers a witty and wry debut novel about a timely and deeply important subject, in a story about betrayal and hatred, and the friendships that we find in the most unexpected of places.

This is a deeply authentic story about the glory and terror of encountering the outside world without ever sacrificing who you are, and who you want to be. It is tragic, touching, and just as Jewish as your Bubbe’s cholent. Issac offers up a refreshingly human look at the day-to-day nuances of Orthodox Judaism and the horrors of modern antisemitism. Readers laughed, gasped, craved kosher Starburst.

Blum has the rare talent of telling visceral and searing truths in such a funny, witty, and punchy kind of way. This book is an incredibly vital voice in Jewish YA canon.

The novel has been long listed for the National Book Award and is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Isaac Blum

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