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Grief and healing

Cover of Aviva vs. the Dybbuk
A review of Aviva vs. the Dybbuk by Mari Lowe

I picked up this book expecting something of a ghost story - which it is not. It is a story of trauma, grief, and overcoming loss with the support of community and friends.

Six years ago, Aviva's father died in an "accident". Since then, she and her mother live in a small apartment above the mikvah where her mother now works. One problem is that a dybbuk also lives in the mikvah. Aviva is the only person who can see the dybbuk, and she is the one that has to clean up the messes he makes. Aviva's mother, Ema, used to be a teacher at Aviva's school, but since the accident, she can barely get out of bed and does not leave the house. Kayla used to be Aviva's best friend, but since the accident, they have grown apart too. As if that is not enough, Aviva is bullied at school and antisemitism is as near as the swastika etched into the sidewalk in front of the shul. The one thing that does seem to be going in Aviva's favor is that she is a great machanayim player and she hopes to make it on the school team. But there is an incident, and now not only can she not be on the machanayim team, but she and Kayla have to work together to plan the Bas Mitzvah Bash. After some uncertainty, the two girls do work together to battle the dybbuk, plan a great Bas Mitzvah Bash, and rekindle their friendship.  

There are a few scary moments when Aviva confronts an intruder. And when we learn the full story of Aviva's father's accident and the dybbuk, it is heart breaking. But, ultimately the story ends with hope and a sense that the community will come together to bring peace and comfort.

Nov 16, 2022