Feminist Books for Younger Readers: Aviva vs. the Dybbuk

Aviva vs. the Dybbuk by Mari Lowe (Levine Querido, $16.99)

This suspenseful, middle-grade novel is narrated by almost-bat-mitzvah-age Aviva, whose dad died in an accident when she was six. Ever since, she has lived with her depressed, reclusive mom—a former teacher, now a mikveh attendant—in an apartment above the mikveh and their Orthodox synagogue.

Aviva blames a Dybbuk, a mischievous spirit invisible to others, for making all kinds of trouble for her and for others. A champion player at machanyim, the competitive dodgeball-like game popular at her all-girls Jewish day school, Aviva is treated with kindness and understanding by teachers and the principal, but getting along with her peers is often a challenge. This powerful contemporary story of grief, mental health and healing also includes an incident of antisemitic vandalism.