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Unorthodox is the bestselling memoir of a young Jewish woman’s escape from a religious sect, in the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel and Carolyn Jessop’s Escape, featuring a new epilogue by the author.
As a member of the strictly religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, Deborah Feldman grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. Yet in spite of her repressive upbringing, Deborah grew into an independent-minded young woman whose stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to imagine an alternative way of life among the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at nineteen and realized that, regardless of the obstacles, she would have to forge a path—for herself and her son—to happiness and freedom.
Remarkable and fascinating, this “sensitive and memorable coming-of-age story” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) is one you won’t be able to put down.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Overall, it’s a good read. Telling the stories of how Hasidic Jews have shaped their lives and rules after the Holocaust, Feldman opens up the door to a community rarely seen, the good and the bad, all while compelling the questions of how far isolated communities are allowed to stretch the laws around them and whether or not someone can truly ever shed their Jewishness.
That being said, there are holes in the story. Time passes extremely quickly and vaguely, and while there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a lot of substance to the story, I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing. Like there’s another side I need to hear to come to full conclusions. I’m glad I read the story, but there’s something about the way it was presented that just leaves me feeling like there’s a small something about the author that doesn’t sit well, but I can’t figure out what it is. I’m not sure yet if I will read her second book, Exodus, which has even more mixed reviews.