Publisher's Note:  

David Da-Wei Horowitz has a lot on his plate. Preparing for his upcoming bar mitzvah would be enough work even if it didn't involve trying to please his Jewish and Chinese grandmothers, who argue about everything. But David just wants everyone to be happy.

That includes his friend Scott, who is determined to win their upcoming trivia tournament but doesn't like their teammate -- and David's best friend -- Hector. Scott and David begin digging a fallout shelter just in case this Cold War stuff with the Soviets turns south... but David's not so convinced he wants to spend forever in an underground bunker with Scott. Maybe it would be better if Hector and Kelli Ann came with them. But that would mean David has to figure out how to stand up for Hector and talk to Kelli Ann. Some days, surviving nuclear war feels like the least of David's problems.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

This is Just A Test

by Wendy Wan-Long, Madelyn Rosenberg

Review Date:

Recommended Age:

Overall Rating:

Profanity / Language Rating:

Violence / Gore Rating:

Sex / Nudity Rating:

Overall Review:  

It's strange to think that a book that takes place from the time period of my childhood would be considered historical fiction, but such is the case of the novel This is Just a Test written by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Set in 1983, how the American/Soviet nuclear show down is playing out is at the forefront of everyone's minds, including 12-year-old David Da-Wei Horowitz. However, this possible world catastrophe is also competing with his impending Bar Mitzvah, trying to get the attention of a certain girl, dealing with friendship dynamics, and the possibility of WWIII breaking out in his own living room between his Jewish grandmother and his Chinese grandmother, for David's attention. While on the surface This is Just a Test is a novel about the awkwardness and difficulties that come with middle school, underneath there are the complex issues of family dynamics and how world events affect children.

David is doing his best to deal with all of the things on his plate. His upcoming Bar Mitzvah has divided his two grandmothers even further and has caused them to start trying to one-up each other. There is a great chapter about the Thanksgiving dinner that illustrates it perfectly and results in basically two meals being served. David tries to play peacemaker and include both of their ideas, which is kind of exhausting. Then there is a new friend who has gotten David to help build a bunker, but who doesn't really like David's oldest and best friend. Trying to balance those two is another tug-o-war that is pulling him apart. Added to all of this, is trying to figure out how to talk to girls.  But at the top of all of his worries is having to speak at his Bar Mitzvah. This is Just a Test is a delightfully told story of competing sides in a tug-o-war/give-and-take battle, showing the reader that even 12-year-old seventh graders have a lot to deal with, whether it be on a grand scale such as international relations or on a smaller scale of balancing new and old friendships.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  None 

Violence/Gore:  Throughout the book the possibility of World War III breaking out or the Soviets dropping a nuclear bomb is mentioned or alluded to many times and as it is more an underlying theme of the book rather than specifics (these have not been tallied); brief description of the movie The Day After which is about what would happen after a nuclear bomb is dropped and includes mention of how people might die; mention of news report about Soviets having shot down a civilian airplane. 

Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:  

Cold War, possibility of nuclear war, divorce.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  


Reviewed By Sally
No image available