The powerful coming-of-age story of an ultra-Orthodox child who was born to become a rabbinic leader and instead became a woman
Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews.
But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life.
Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?
Trans activist Stein, a former member of the Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, plainly recalls her strict childhood and struggle to come out as transgender in an uneven debut that's more focused on religion than identity. Stein, born in 1991, was her parents' first "boy," though she always secretly believed she was a girl. For Hasidic boys, "every minute spent on anything other than Jewish studies is wasted time," Stein writes, focusing her narrative on her study of the Torah and Talmudic laws. One of the most captivating sections concerns her first sexual experiences, as a teenager with a male classmate. Her recollections of their clandestine encounters have more depth than later chapters, which feel oddly rushed as they recall life-altering moments (her marriage to a woman named Fraidy, the birth of their son when Stein was 20, her exit, in the last chapter, from the Hasidic community). It is only in the epilogue, set in 2015, that Stein comes out as transgender to her father, who rejects her, and mentions that she has started hormone replacement therapy. This is a valuable story but a frustratingly structured one; readers who wish to learn about Stein's life as a transgender woman won't find a wealth of detail here.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great story, easy to follow, and Abby is very likable
This book was amazing! I read it in under a week. It is well organized, and the story flows very naturally. It feels like we are personal friends of Abby’s and growing up with her. The writing is easy to follow, even for those not familiar with Hasidic traditions, and everything is explained simply without taking away from the story for explanations. I cried many times, at sad and happy parts. Abby is smart, tough, interesting, caring, and all around very likable and I feel lucky she has shared this story with us.