Intentions by Deborah Heiligman

Author: Deborah Heiligman
Genre: Young Adult
Format: ebook
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: 8-14-12
Rachel thought she was grown up enough to accept that no one is perfect. Her parents argue, her grandmother has been acting strangely, and her best friend doesn’t want to talk to her. But none of that could have prepared her for what she overheard in her synagogue’s sanctuary. Now Rachel’s trust in the people she loves is shattered, and her newfound cynicism leads to reckless rebellion. Her friends and family hardly recognize her, and worse, she can hardly recognize herself. But how can the adults in her life lecture her about acting with kavanah, intention, when they are constantly making such horribly wrong decisions themselves? This is a witty, honest account of navigating the daunting line between losing innocence and entering adulthood—all while figuring out who you really want to be. – Goodreads

Intentions begins with 15 year old Rachel escaping to the synagogue to avoid her fighting parents and subsequently witnessing something that sets her world at a tilt.  As we meet the people in Rachel’s world, you soon realize that her old friendships are changing.  She hardly knows her best friends anymore, and her attempts to repair that relationship made me cringe more than once.  Even without witnessing what she did Rachel is in a major state of transition in her life.  Deborah Heiligman paints a very realistic portrait of what many teens go through.  Life seems to be a serious of decisions and you could argue that Rachel has made good ones, thus far, but as the little cracks in the structure of her life start to show, the line between right and wrong gets a little blurry.  The way that the characters are written, particularly the dialogue, made the story feel very real to me. 

While Rachel’s religion is obviously a big part of her life, this is not a book that is preachy or judgmental.  Rachel is flawed.  She lets someone else’s poor choices cloud her own judgement.  What I loved was her journey toward the realization that her sense of self will guide her inner moral compass, not the actions of the adults in her life.  Becoming disillusioned with the grown-ups can be very painful, as it was in this story, but Rachel was able to decide what kind of person she wanted to be and accept the consequences of her actions.  Most importantly, she began to really understand her parents, and other adults, as flawed human beings and the world did not end.  The story itself was full of drama, romance and the intricacies of the high school social scene and that painted a very engaging and realistic portrait of Rachel’s life, both before and after her disturbing discovery.  The ending of these types of books can be tricky, but I absolutely loved the ending of this one.  It made me smile and get a little teary at the same time.

This book earned 4 birds:

I received this book as a galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Find Deborah Heiligman online:


Kate @ Ex Libris


3 responses to “Intentions by Deborah Heiligman

Leave a Reply