The instant New York Times 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.
The Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism is as mysterious as it is intriguing to outsiders. In this arresting memoir, Deborah Feldman reveals what life is like trapped within a religious tradition that values silence and suffering over individual freedoms.
Deborah 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. It was stolen moments spent with the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott that helped her to imagine an alternative way of life. 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, for the sake of herself and her son, she had to escape.
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Deborah Feldman relates a fascinating story of her personal journey from a captive existence with one ultra extreme segment of Judaism to a freer existence without the severe restraints. It could be a similar story to hard core, ultra fundamentalist young Christians escaping their personal prisons to bright young women growing up under extremist Islamic Sharia traditions.
So Deborah's story presents universal appeal. It is not unlike, but much less harsh, my growing up in a family where WE ALL (my mother, father and brother) broke from Orthodox Judaism and transitioned to Traditional Reform Judaism. Religion can be inspiring, healing personally and to the world in general, and Non-Judgmental. A good movie that illustrates this dichotomy is "Loving Leah" (Hallmark/Amazon).
I hope Deborah remains true to,her Jewish heritage and roots. If she lives in New York, she should visit the great Central Synagogue and listen to Rabbi Angela Burgdahl. A female, a...
I know what it's like to disown your family and leave your way of life, friends, community behind. I know what it's like to cut ties with the "good" family members and the "bad" at the same time, because there's no way to have one without the other.
This is a sad, clumsy, but ultimately beautiful story of growing up in a concentric circles of pretense and denial. First the author's own pressure to pretend to be the "good girl", then her immediate family pretending that nothing is wrong, despite being filled with abuse and pain and mental illness.
I noticed that a lot of the one star reviews seem to be from people with "skin in the game". This is very disturbing to me -- hasn't the author been through enough without people telling her she's a bad mom for getting divorced, that her husband is a nice man, that she is being a traitor, etc.? Seriously.
Ms. Feldman managed, despite oppression which conspired against her, to become a very well read woman. There were points of her narrative which I found very reminiscent of other biographical (or even the genre creative nonfiction) novels. It brought to mind the fictional work of Toni Morrison and other great black female writers, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston. It recalled fiction writers Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston, who drew on their own lives for their work. This is, however, a straight autobiography. And at the end of her book Ms. Feldman touches on the fact that even in a non "minority" status, women are still oppressed in modern, more inclusive society. I felt like I met her personally. And I am thankful for that. She is absolutely right--real education, uncensored education, and an independent mind are the ticket to freedom. I even envy her! I recommend her book.
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