Recently Read: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen

Drawing power: Does the story pull you in and make you feel as if you’re part of the world?

I was drawn to this book by the premise given in the blurb (book description/summary). The basic plot is a Romeo and Juliet kind of situation where the boy is one Hoodie Rosen, an orthodox Jew, and the girl is Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary, the mayor’s daughter.

A forbidden romance does take place, though probably not as most readers would expect. If you think you can guess what happens, you’re already wrong. On the other hand, if you’re a true Jew and you think you know what’s going to happen, then you might be right.

I was pleasantly surprised with how the story, and the romance, progressed.

Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Are you craving to discover how it ends?

Yes, yes, yes. This is an extremely interesting, highly intellectual story. The characters are written well enough to make the reader care about them.

Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? Does it present a querulous agenda?

The book can be offensive because it takes free license with the name and title of The Son of God (interestingly enough, also known as King of the Jews). I was of the impression, and maybe I heard wrong, that orthodox Jews didn’t believe Jesus Christ was the promised Savior or The Son of God. But here we see the writer sprinkling dialog with “Jesus Christ” in the manner of all other writers who want to use the name of authority to cause the reader to feel the frisson of naughtiness and associate it with urgency in the narrative. This misattribution of arousal has been abused by writers of novels and screenplays alike for so long, some people forgot why the misuse was first employed. Forgetfulness may be the case here.

Despite origins and reasons for use, it may be offensive to those who revere Jesus Christ.

Range of emotion: Is the story serious when necessary? Do the jokes come at appropriate times? Does the story present emotions at pleasing intervals?

There’s a running gag which is employed really well. There are also a number of stand-alone jokes that will make the reader either cringe at the cheesiness or laugh out loud at the perfectly timed zingers. Every emotion is evoked through the writing and the emotions presented flow smoothly together, never colliding.

Character factor: Are there quality actors (not necessarily famous ones) in the film? Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? Is there a quality dynamic between the characters? Is the narrator mostly invisible?

The characters are not one-sided. They have facets like diamonds. There are kooky side characters filled with humanity and real human traits. They make mistakes or they act admirably—exactly like real people. One such side character is Hoodie’s sister Chana who enjoys launching things off the roof. Though the narrative never explains how she gets all those things up there, it’s still fun to read about her brand of insanity.

This is a first person perspective novel and the narrator is the main character. I usually don’t like first person “diary” books which either have no suspense or rely on magic to save the main character, however, no god machine needed to be set in motion since the main character lives through his ordeal. The opening sentence lets you know all about that. The writer wisely lets the reader know at the beginning.

Style: Does the film use sloppy-cam? Does the literary work use loose plot lines? Are all the words in the right places? Are all the props in the right scenes?

The writing style is fluid, allowing the reader to move through the plot naturally. There is consistent quality in the writing style. Details are given at appropriate moments and in brief, so none are out of place.

Proper length: Does a fantasy world require multiple manuscripts? Does a dystopian world beg to be spartan or truncated?

Because the writing gives all the right details (aside from the one mentioned parenthetically above) it kept me reading, wanting to know what would happen next. It was only 14 chapters long, so the book is exactly how long it should be and no longer. There are no extraneous chapters.

To summarize: this book gets six out of seven stars. It only loses one star for the Offensive Factor. High quality writing and a thoughtful plot make The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen a book well worth reading.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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