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Childhood Crushes & Dentist Fanfiction

Magazine Review by Katy Haas

Who didn’t have an embarrassing crush growing up? For thirteen-year-old Chava in “I Love You, Dr. Rudnitsky” by Avigayl Sharp, her new crush is her titular dentist.

Chava, deep in the throes of the brutality of puberty, falls in love with her dentist one day. Her newfound crush with its accompanying fantasies serves as a respite from her real life: being Jewish and bullied at her Catholic school, a disconnect with her distant mother, and disgust at her own body—her weight, her body hair, her budding sexuality.

Sharp gives Chava a voice that’s somehow both humorous and tragic, bringing me back to those awkward days of adolescence and the torturous process of puberty. She’s upfront and honest, telling us truths she doesn’t admit to others, while simultaneously wrapping us up in one lie after the other. By the end of the story, it feels like we’re reading her Dr. Rudnitsky fanfiction she’s posting on some secret blog. One can’t help feeling sympathy for Chava, for wanting to sit her down and give her a hug and some advice, and we can thank Sharp for creating such a cringe-worthy yet completely loveable character.

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