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Book Review: Bar Mitzvah Disco

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The inspiration for the book comes from the Web site (barmitzvahdisco.com) in which the authors tell the story of a generation through collections of Bar and Bat Mitzvah pictures and stories from friends, families, and strangers.

The people who wrote the Foreword are perfect for the job. They’ve probably played a part in every Bar Mitzvah since the ’70s: The Village People, the group behind “Y.M.C.A.” Though short, the Foreword kicks off the book nicely.

Those embarrassed by their Bar or Bat Mitzvah pictures will feel better and maybe even proud after flipping through Bar Mitzvah Disco’s hilarious photo album as the book represents “every Jewish teen” who hit puberty in the ’70s, ’80s, or early ’90s.

Anyone wishing to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah that reflects one of these decades has a great source in this book. If not for inspiration, the reader will get plenty of ideas of “what not to do” in party planning and those famous bar and bat mitzvah photo poses.

Be prepared for poofy dresses, high hair, Benetton, Vuarnet glasses, Day-Glo necklaces, dancing with a crush, boys shorter than girls, boys in fancy suits, sign-in boards, socks, food, giant shoulder pads, DJs, the money machine, lines from ’80s songs, and break dancing.

Whether or not you’ve gone through the Jewish rite of passage, if you’ve attended a Bar or Bat Mitzvah between the ’70s and early ’90s, expect to flash to the past and laugh as you see the infamous styles from those decades and memorable moments.

The book comes with photos from over 90 Bar or Bat Mitzvah, commentary from the teens behind the pictures, short essays from celebrities and the unknown, and photos with the famous and infamous including O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and a few cheesy impersonators. While 90+ sounds like a lot, many pictures come from the same event and more photo variety would enhance the book.

The book ends with an update on some of the brave folks who appeared in the book. These folks work on Will and Grace and The Family Guy do stand up comedy, and hold hot shot positions. They probably begged for the update section to show how successful they are as a way to save face from the embarrassing photos and stories. But seriously, it’s good to know what became of those pimply kids with braces.

While reading the book, don’t be surprised if you pull out your albums or start dancing to “Y.M.C.A.” Children of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s — especially those who enjoy VH-1’s I Love the ’80s series — will appreciate the stories and photos.

Meryl, until reading this book, is grateful she didn’t have a Bat Mitzvah. She’s sorry she didn’t get to submit photos from her brother’s Bar Mitzvah (Meryl was only three at the time, so no embarrassing pictures of her… just her siblings and family — evil laughter).

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About Meryl K Evans

Meryl K. Evans, Content Maven, is the author of "Brilliant Outlook Pocketbook" and the co-author of "Adapting to Web Standards: CSS and Ajax for Big Sites." She has written and edited for a bunch of places online and off. A native Texan, she lives a heartbeat north of Dallas in Plano, Texas with her husband and three kiddos.