"Let's set the record straight, Ron. I'm an ail-American girl with red, white, and blue blood running through these veins. I do not stay at places called moshavs. Unless I've signed up for the Girl Scouts, which I didn't. I need amenities. Amenities! Do you know what those are?"

"Yes. But don't expect many where we're going. Last time I visited, only one family on the moshav had electricity and it wasn't mine."

I open the glove compartment.

"What are you doing?" Ron asks.

"Looking for a map so I know which direction to go when I escape from the moshav" I say.

He chuckles.

"Ha, ha, funny, funny. I bet you won't be laughing when you wake up one morning and find I've gone back to civilization."

Ron pats my knee with his hand. "I was just kidding, Amy. They have electricity."

Kidding? Ron was kidding with me?

"I knew you were joking. Do you actually think I'm that gullible?"

He doesn't answer, but I know he knows the truth by the quirky way his mouth is moving.

"Will you at least give me the keys to your car so I can drive myself to a mall?"

"Sorry. Driving age here is eighteen."


"I'll take you wherever you want to go. Don't worry. Besides, if you get lost you won't know how to get back."

Good, I think to myself. Getting lost sounds like a great idea.

I sigh and look out the window. On one side of the car is the Mediterranean Sea and on the other side are mountains with houses built into them. If I was in a better mood

I might even think the scenery is beautiful, but I'm cranky and tired and my butt is numb.

I start doing my butt exercises. I was watching a late night talk show a couple of years ago when some action star, maybe Steven Seagal or Antonio Banderas, was talking about how they do butt exercises while in the car.

Just tighten, then release. Tighten. Release. Tighten. Release. I'm "feeling it burn," but after ten minutes my butt cheeks start to quiver on the tighten part and I stop.

By now we've taken a turn away from the sea and all around us are small trees in rows.

"What are those?" I ask.

"Olive trees."

"I hate olives."

"I love them."

Figures. "I hope you're not one of those pit-spitters."


"You know, those people who spit out the pit right in front of other people at the table. That's totally gross."

He doesn't answer. I would bet my grandmother's underpants Ron is a pit-spitter.

"What kind of food do you like?" he asks. "I'm sure I can get it for you."


"You mean raw fish?" he asks, wincing.


I used to hate it. When Mom first had me try it I gagged and spit it out (into my napkin, very discreetly I might add, unlike gross pit-spitters). Mom loves sushi. I guess it's like alcohol. You want to puke the first time you have it, but then it grows on you and you like it. It's probably why they say there's a thin line between love and hate. Now I don't just like sushi, I crave it. Ron obviously needs to be introduced to sushi with a professional sushi-eater like me.

We're now driving through the mountains on an extremely curvy road and I'm getting nauseous. The last time I noticed civilization was about fifteen minutes ago.

We wind our way down one mountain and stop at the road leading to another one. I read a sign with the words MOSHAV MENORA in English and some words in Hebrew on it.

Ron takes the road to Moshav Menora. Now the place looks like Switzerland, with grassy hills surrounding us on all sides.

He stops at a scenic rest stop built into the mountain.

"This is it?" I ask.

He turns to me and takes the key out of the ignition. "This is the Golan Heights, a very special and beautiful place. Let's go see the view."

"Do I have to?" I ask. "I got to pee."

"Can you hold it for a few minutes longer? I really need to talk with you before you meet my family."

This I have to hear. I open the car door and walk outside. We stroll in silence to the edge of the mountain. When I look over the edge, it reminds me of a scene from a postcard.

"They don't know about you," Ron blurts out.


"Who doesn't know about me?"

"My mudder, my brudder and his wife ..."

A pang of pain stabs my chest as if something pierced it. My heart starts beating fast and I'm breathing heavily. "Why?" I whisper, barely able to get the words out.

"It's complicated," he says, and then looks away from me. "You see, when I came to America I wanted to prove to everyone back here I could make it. You know, The

American Dream."

"And you didn't expect me to come along and ruin your dream," I say.

"I met your mom the first weekend I was in the U.S. I was a cocky Israeli who just wanted to have a good time. A few months later I found out I was going to be a fadder."

I start walking away from him. What does he want me to do, apologize for being born?

"I hate you," I say as I head back to the car. I wipe the stupid tears I can't help from falling down my cheeks.

"Amy, please. For once let me set the record straight--"

"Just unlock the door." I hear the click and get inside the car. He's looking at me like he wants to explain more, but I don't want to hear it. "Let's go already!" I yell.

He gets back in the car and we ride up to the top of the mountain. I thought I was ready to meet Ron's family, but now all I want to do is crawl into a hole.

Because he's not just going to introduce me to his family, he's going to tell them for the first time he has an illegitimate daughter.

Chapter 5

If I close my eyes, will life stop spinning out of control?

We reach a gate and a guy with a large machine gun comes up to our car. I've never even seen a machine gun before today and cringe every time I think about what they're used for.

Ron says something in Hebrew. The guy smiles and signals for the gate to open. We drive down a dirt road on top of the mountain and pass six rows of houses. There are about seven to ten houses down each road on either side. Ron turns down one of them and parks in front of a house.

"I'm not going in until you tell them who I am," I say.

I think he's going to argue and I ready myself for a fight. But Ron just says, "Fair enough."

He gets out of the car and I stay put. I watch as he enters the small one-story house.

The windows are open in the car, but there's no breeze. And it's not only hot, I think the devil himself must live on this mountain because sweat is pouring down my face, neck, and chest. My Abercrombie & Fitch shirt has wet marks on it already from disgusting armpit sweat.

How can these people stand the heat? I look at my nail before biting on it. What is Ron saying to them? Is he sweating as much as I am? I hope so.

I step out of the car and lean against the side of it, listening for the scolding Safta should be giving Ron. Boy is he going to get it. If I were Safta I'd rip him a new one for denying her, well, me. But I don't hear yelling. In fact, I don't hear much coming from the house.

Instead, something hits my arm. Hard.

"Hey!" I yell and panic.

I'm not stupid, I know it's not a bullet. Not that I wouldn't be surprised if Ron's family decided "do away" with his illegitimate daughter once they heard the truth.

As I have that thought, I look down and see the offending object.

A soccer ball.

" Tizreki le'kan" a voice bellows from behind the car. As if I can understand. But I can't, so I ignore it. Besides, I already feel a bruise forming on my arm.

The sound of running footsteps echoes before I'm face to face with an Israeli boy about my age.

"Shalom" he says.

He's wearing jeans, has a dusty and ripped white T-shirt on, and is wearing Greek sandals. You know, the ones like the Greek philosophers wore. But that's not the worst part. The guy is wearing white socks along with the sandals. Socks with sandals! Seeing that makes me laugh so I look up at his face instead of his feet. I don't want to insult the guy.

"Hi," I say.

Does he speak English? I don't know so I just stand there in silence.

Two more boys run up to us. One starts to talk to the boy in Hebrew but becomes silent when he notices me.

"I America," I say slowly and loud like I'm talking to a chimpanzee. I'm hoping by some miracle they'll understand me.

They turn to each other with confused looks on their faces and I realize these next three months are going to be like living in a bubble. A bubble with people who don't understand a word I'm saying, except for the Sperm Donor. Could my summer vacation be ruined more?

The first boy steps closer to me. He has dark blond hair and a rugged, boyish grin. I know, I know, rugged and boyish don't really go together. But on this guy it does, trust me. "You speak English?" he asks with a heavy accent.

Huh? "Yes. Do you?"

"Yes. But what does 'I America' mean?"

"Nothing. Just forget it."

"You a friend us not?" he asks.

Huh? Obviously his English isn't good. Was he asking if I'm a friend or not? I'm almost afraid to say no. "Yes."

The second guy turns to me. "What's your name?"


"Hi Amy, I'm Doo-Doo," he says. Then he points to the other two guys. "And this is Moron and O'dead."

Now, I've never said these four words in a row before. In fact, I don't think they've ever come out of someone less than the age of sixty, but they come out of my mouth almost automatically.

"I beg your pardon?" I say. My eyes are squinting as if that would clear my ears so I could hear right.

They all look at me like I'm the one who's got the problem. I have this urge to burst out laughing. But I suppress it because they obviously don't get the joke. Which actually makes it all the more funny. Okay, so some parts of my trip are actually going to be amusing.

But my amusement fades as another guy comes up to us. He's got dark brown hair that matches his eyes. And he's tall, bronzed, and wearing no shirt. He has jeans hugging those slender hips of his, a washboard stomach, and by every measure he's just about the toughest looking teenager I've ever seen.

"Americayit," Moron says, pointing to me.

No-shirt guy says some stuff to Doo-Doo, Moron, and O'dead in Hebrew and ignores me completely. Which just proves one of my many theories ...the gorgeous guys are always the biggest jerks. At least the other guys smiled and introduced themselves. No-shirt guy just barks some words at his friends, then walks away.

"How long are you visiting for?" Moron asks, eyeing the suitcases in the back seat.

For a helluva lot longer than I want to. "The whole summer."

"We're going to hang out at the beach tomorrow tonight. Do you want to join us?"

Doo-Doo asks.

"Sure," I say.

I look over at the house and there's a crowd of four strangers plus Ron standing in the open doorway. They're all staring at me. How could I have forgotten why I was here in the first place?

Ron walks up to me. I want to ask, "How did it go?" but don't.

So now I find myself walking up this muddy pathway, to this small house that's going to be my residence for the next three months. As the cherry on top of the cake called my life, I'm going to live with family members who I've never met before and a biological father who I hardly know.