Review of Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman


This book was recommended to me by Jamie Ray, who runs the blog A Boy and Her Dog, and is a great read…listen. I got the audiobook. I do love to read, but I have been traveling this month and knew this would be a better way to get a little more reading in. Interestingly, I am traveling away from the city where her story ends. I feel like this lets me appreciate the end of her story a bit more, but perhaps not.

I find this book very interesting and would definitely recommend it to others. Specifically, it is for those who want to understand the world through the experiences of others. Some such people love biographies and sometimes they are simply people trying to appreciate the way others can get different ideas and concepts about the world around them than those which the reader was raised with.

I appreciate that she begins with a conversation with her mother outside of the atmosphere where most of the story takes place. It made it much easier or me to get through so many of the sad or infuriating parts of the story later on. All in all, she lived a life that terrifies me, where the rules of her community served to limit everyone in it, it seemed. She also makes it very clear which rules made her feel like she had clipped wings and which just made her feel like an outsider. Knowing that she breaks free from the start gave me the hope I needed to make it to the end of her book. Hearing the way she did it was great. I enjoyed the way she seemed to just decide to take control over her own life and take her power instead of continuing to give it away. That was how it felt to me.

There were many interesting aspects of Feldman’s story and I truly hope the best for her. She has since written another book: Exodus: A Memoir and has a blog. That she already knows how to take control of the power of her single voice in the world assures me that she will probably continue to be just fine.

For me, this month is a time for reflection and review of what we’re doing and this book fits nicely within that. Feldman recounts her experience and takes stock of her life and where it may be heading. She appreciates that road that she went down to get to where she is, the things that it prepared her for, and the things it didn’t. She also ends with a sense of adventure for her future and all the experiences that are still to be had. It was very hopeful and I like that sort of thing.


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