I'm calling it now: Cohen is the new Kate DiCamillo. This book is silly and whimsical, yet it's also a deeply touching family story with an ending that will have you in happy tears. It has DiCamillo's oft-used themes of religious tension, family members struggling to feel seen by each other, and big characters in small towns. Eleven-year-old Miriam's parents buy a motel in upstate New York and move out of the city to run it. But the motel is run down, and few people seem to be interested in visiting the tiny town it's in. Along with a new friend, Miriam hatches a plan to lure guests to town. At the same time, she's worrying that her Jewish family won't be accepted by the townspeople, helping the diner lady make grape pies, and conquering her fear of water in the motel pool. — Nadja Tiktinsky
Buying and moving into the run-down Jewel Motor Inn in upstate New York wasn't eleven-year-old Miriam Brockman's dream, but at least it's an adventure. Miriam befriends Kate, whose grandmother owns the diner next door, and finds comfort in the company of Maria, the motel's housekeeper, and her Uncle Mordy, who comes to help out for the summer. She spends her free time helping Kate's grandmother make her famous grape pies and begins to face her fears by taking swimming lessons in the motel's pool.
But when it becomes clear that only a miracle is going to save the Jewel from bankruptcy, Jewish Miriam and Catholic Kate decide to create their own. Otherwise, the No Vacancy sign will come down for good, and Miriam will lose the life she's worked so hard to build.