I found it at the Beverly Hills Library at last, plus the author will be at the Association of Jewish Libraries West Coast Conference that's coming up soon, so I figured the time had come. The beginning starts off like it's going to buy into nasty stereotypes about women's roles in Orthodox Judaism and terrible stepmothers. My heart sank, and I almost didn't continue. B"H, I read on, because the author totally turns both these notions on their heads by the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it highly. I can't wait to post a glowing review on Amazon!
The upcoming conference, by the way, is on the topic of graphic novels for Jewish kids. A comic book about the founding of the state of Israel won the Sydney Taylor prize last year or the year before, I think, and Hereville won this year. Of course the first in the genre that is well-know was Maus about 15 or 20 years ago, but only now is this genre gaining momentum.
I've been reading more and more "Jewish" sci fi and fantasy (some of what is classified as such is anything but Jewish, if you ask me) and writing more pieces, too. I'm realizing from some of the comments I've gotten back from friends that a big hurdle in the genre is the idea of deus ex mechina. As an Orthodox Jew, I strongly believe that Hashem runs the world...and that everything will be "right" in the end. The sci-fi genre, in particular, has a big undercurrent of rugged individualism, and fantasy often depends on the threat that things could work out very badly indeed, with evil at odds with good and totally independent of it. These tendencies tend to conflict. I'm trying to resolve it in my writing.