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Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots Hardcover – Feb 14 2012
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One of O magazine's "10 Titles to Pick Up Now"
“Deborah Feldman was raised in an insular, oppressive world where she was taught that, as a woman, she wasn’t capable of independent thought. But she found the pluck and determination needed to make the break from that world and has written a brave, riveting account of her journey. Unorthodox is harrowing, yet triumphant.”—Jeannette Walls, #1 bestselling author of The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses
“[Feldman’s] matter-of-fact style masks some penetrating insights.”—The New York Times
“An unprecedented view into a Hasidic community that few outsiders ever experience. . . . Unorthodox reminds us that there are religious communities in the United States that restrict young women to marriage and motherhood. These women are expected to be obedient to their community and religion, without question or complaint, no matter the price.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Riveting . . . extraordinary.”—Marie Claire
“Eloquent, appealing, and just emotional enough . . . No doubt girls all over Brooklyn are buying this book, hiding it under their mattresses, reading it after lights out—and contemplating, perhaps for the first time, their own escape.”—HuffingtonPost.com
“Deborah Feldman has stripped the cloak off the insular Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, offering outsiders a rare glimpse into the ultraconservative world in which she was raised.”—Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Compulsively readable, Unorthodox relates a unique coming-of-age story that manages to speak personally to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider in her own life. Feldman bravely lays her soul bare, unflinchingly sharing intimate thoughts and ideas unthinkable within the deeply religious existence of the Satmars. . . . Teens will devour this candid, detailed memoir of an insular way of life so unlike that of the surrounding society.”—School Library Journal
“[Feldman’s] no-holds-barred memoir bookstores on February 14th. And it’s not exactly a Valentine to the insular world of shtreimels, sheitels and shtiebels. Instead, [Unorthodox] describes an oppressive community in which secular education is minimal, outsiders are feared and disdained, English-language books are forbidden, mental illness is left untreated, abuse and other crimes go unreported . . . a surprisingly moving, well-written and vivid coming-of-age tale.”—The Jewish Week
“Imagine Frank McCourt as a Jewish virgin, and you've got Unorthodox in a nutshell . . . a sensitive and memorable coming-of-age story.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“[Deborah Feldman's] is an extraordinary story of struggle and dream. . . . Both her escape and her decision to tell her story are magnificent acts of courage.”—Anouk Markovits, author of I Am Forbidden
“Unorthodox is a fascinating book . . . Feldman’s voice resonates throughout.”—The Jewish Daily Forward
“Denied every kind of nourishment except the doughy, shimmering plates of food obsessively produced by her Holocaust-survivor grandmother . . . books nourish [Feldman’s] spirit and put in her hands the liberatory power of storytelling. As she becomes a reader and then a writer, Feldman reinvents herself as a human being.”—Newsday (New York)
“Unorthodoz is painfully good. . . .Unlike so many other authors who have left Orthodoxy and written about it, [Feldman’s] heart is not hardened by hatred, and her spirit is wounded but intact. . . . She is a sensitive and talented writer.”—JewishJournal.com
“Unorthodox is consistently engaging. And the very fact of it is touching. For years . . . [Feldman] examined library shelves, marveling that there were so many men and women who believed in their ‘innate right . . . to speak their mind in whatever way they saw fit.’ That she has joined their ranks is remarkable indeed.”—BarnesandNobleReview.com
“Feldman gives us special insight into a closed and repressive world. . . . Her memoir is fresh and tart and utterly absorbing.”—Library Journal
“Nicely written . . . [An] engaging and at times gripping insight into Brooklyn's Hasidic community.”—Publishers Weekly
“A remarkable tale.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Feldman’s evolution as well as her look inside a closed community make for fascinating reading … her storyteller’s sense and a keen eye for details give readers a you-are-there sense of what it is like to be different when everyone else is the same.”—Booklist
About the Author
Deborah Feldman was raised in the Hasidic community of Satmar in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. She attends Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City with her son.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Feldman provides a measured and thoughtful accounting of growing up Satmar and invokes the reader's pleasure through mutual discovery of new worlds. As Feldman discovers the forbidden pleasures of Narnia and Roald Dahl, we in turn discover her world: the traditional girls school, the isolated summer camp, and her education in the religious laws of modesty and purity that govern dress, menstruation, and sex. The author shares her intimate thoughts, struggling to reconcile her independent mind with the conformity that is expected of her. We hear her giggles, gripes, doubts, critiques, and challenges to the status quo, which she accomplishes without wholly skewering the people around her. Her accounting of her past is remarkably frank and compelling.
The quality of Feldman's writing is especially remarkable, given the fact that this is her first book, which she wrote in a non-native language. However, the final chapter disappoints as it lacks craft and makes too many proclamations with little substance. Ultimately, she leaves too many loose ends: how does she support herself and her young son? Does she maintain a relationship with her grandparents? Does she continue to practice Judaism? Perhaps a follow-up memoir will provide much needed closure.
Most recent customer reviews
This is an excellent book with great insight into a very troubling religious group. I want to be 100 copies and hand them out to women iin front of the MikvahPublished 4 months ago by SLH
I was hoping this book would be a good inside look into the ultra orthodox world
There were parts that was good - but the last half of the book I got really annoyed with the... Read more
I think because I just read I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits, which deals with similar issues of the Satmar Hassidic community, I may have judged Unorthodox more harshly than I... Read morePublished 18 months ago by reluctantm
For me the most interesting thing about this book was getting a peek into this extremist group of religious zealots. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Kindle Customer
Love the book !!! I had reconnection or flash back with my own childhood, even thought I come from different culture.Published on June 19 2014 by Viktoria Asnitsky
As a Gentile or "Goya" and grasping that Jews are either God's Blessings or examples to the nations(For example 25% of Nobel prize winners are Jewish though only... Read morePublished on April 7 2014 by Rick M. Pilotte
Very sad that this exists. I am a Christian and love the Jewish people. But according to the Bible, that is no how God wants children to be raised. We have a loving God.Published on March 31 2014 by Elisabeth Janzen
I was enlightened by the facts in this story of an Orthodox Satmar girl growing up in her confined community in New York. Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2013 by Barbara O
There was something about this book that struck me as shallow and insincere. It was interesting what the author omitted - such as information about her relationship with her motherPublished on Aug. 31 2013 by esther caplan
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