Raquel's Reviews > Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
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's review
Jul 26, 2012

it was ok
Read in July, 2012

Excellent premise, but the book was poorly written and left too many gaps. Having come from a family with an Orthodox background (we deviated from it 2 generations ago), I know from my grandmothers' stories that many of the points and stories raised - particularly the description of Orthodox female schooling and sexual experiences - are accurate. However, one "story" (the murder of the masturbating boy) I found utterly absurd. Furthermore, I finished the book wondering why the author didn't go back to describing the relationship with her mother at the end, exactly how the author supported herself and her son when she left the Satmar community, and how on earth she even got out with her son. Is something wrong with him? I can't believe that the Satmar Hasidim would let go of a healthy young boy. That just doesn't happen. I later read online that the author has a younger sister (true?), and that her mother did not leave the community until the author was a teenager (?), which is not what this memoir states. Reuniting with her mother, her divorce, and the child custody issues are far more significant than her cigarette smoking, Jewish nose comments, and admiration of the pretentious Sarah Lawrence women. All things aside, what disturbed me most was that the main failing of her upbringing was the development of a completely superficial young woman. Understandable, though, when you are raised on religious dogma alone.
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