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The World Outside

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An informative and powerful novel, The World Outside explores the life of a teenage girl in a fundamentalist Hasidic community who dreams of a different future.
     Seventeen-year-old Chanie Altman lives the protected life of a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, in 1991. Religion is the most important aspect of her life, and, like other Lubavitcher girls, she is expected to attend a seminary and to marry as soon as she graduates from high school. But Chanie has a beautiful voice and dreams of becoming an opera singer - a profession forbidden to a Hasidic girl. When she meets David, a non-Hasidic Jewish boy, he opens the portals to the world outside her fundamentalist community. The Crown Heights riots break out, and the Lubavitchers are put under siege by their African-American neighbors. A tragedy occurs. Will Chanie stay in the fundamentalist community she has always known in a life that has been prescribed for her, or will she leave it behind to follow her dreams?

240 pages, Hardcover

First published April 8, 2014

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About the author

Eva Wiseman

11 books20 followers
Young adult fiction writer Eva Wiseman was born in Hungary and currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Eva possesses a Bachelor of Science degree, a Master of Arts degree, and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba. She has worked as a journalist for the Winnipeg Free Press and the former Winnipeg Tribune, and has taught English Second Language and GED courses to immigrant women.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Talia.
165 reviews33 followers
June 1, 2014
This book was awful. It was labeled as YA but was written in a dull, immature voice for the high school senior protagonist. The portrait painted of Lubavitch Chasidic culture was quite frankly offensive. I have spent a lot of time in Crown Heights, and I grew up in a Lubavitch community even though I'm not Lubavitch myself, and the way she portrays the community and the people is not only inaccurate but hurtful and damaging. I shudder to think what ideas people reading this book who know nothing about Lubavitch Chasidic practice will come away with. The plot was predictable, the characters weren't likable, and the conflict was shallow. This whole "I grew up in an insular community and now I have lots of emotional baggage from it" narrative is getting old. How about a book that doesn't portray religious Jews as racist, insane, paranoid excuses for human beings? That would be nice.
Profile Image for Michele C.
38 reviews43 followers
August 3, 2014
This book has left me so conflicted...on one hand I couldn't stop reading it and I guess you could say I was kind of well addicted to it ,yet on the on the other hand this book left me frustrated and angry by how offensive it was. That is why this book no matter how quickly I flew through it gets only one meager star--to be honest if I could I would give this book less than one stars, yet since that isn't an option so one star it is.

Wiseman's novel is told through the narration of a 17 year old girl named Chanie Altman,yet if she did not state this I don't think there was any indication of the narrator's age. If I had to guess I would have thought she around thirteen or fourteen with the oldest being fifteen. Chanie Altman may have been one of the most irritating,least likeable and simply annoying narrators I have ever read more recently (or maybe ever...). I understand she had her own issues of wanting to be a singer, yet she could't be one because of the Hasidic community she lived in, yet the way in which she addressed her conflict was simply selfish and ludicrous. In addition, the whole plot of not being able to do something because of restrictions in your community is just so predictable and obvious. I guess you can say the narration and plot just didn't do it for me.

There are many books that I have rated higher even though I didn't like the plot or narration, but this book was simply offensive in it's portrayal of the Chabad community. I'm not Chabad,yet do attend the Chabad at my university very frequently and have met people who are Chabad. This book inaccurately and unfairly portrays these people and I think those that do not know much about this tight knit community would begin to think badly of them, even though this is not in fact true.

I honestly don't know what else to say about this book. I have not read the book Like No Other,but I know has a similar plot and I'm sure it so much better than this book (not that is hard to do...).

Profile Image for Jenni Frencham.
1,284 reviews52 followers
March 14, 2014
Chanie is a Hasidic Jew and lives in a sheltered community with others of her sect. She is in her final year of high school when she meets a boy who suggests that she might want to consider something more. She loves to sing but is not allowed to do so in her community, and David convinces her to audition for Julliard. She is accepted into Julliard, but then she has to decide if her love of singing is more important to her than the community where she has grown up.

This was an interesting story. The same storyline has been repeated in multiple young adult novels, but this was the first time I had read a book about a Hasidic community, and it was interesting to learn about their customs and practices. I didn't agree with Chanie's decision at the end of the story, nor for her reasons for making it, but I think this book would definitely have appeal in my library and would broaden the horizons of my readers, most of whom have not met any Hasidic Jews.

Recommended for: tweens, young adults
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purposes of review.
Profile Image for Debbie.
55 reviews14 followers
October 10, 2014
This story takes place in Crown Heights Brooklyn, during 1991 in a Lubavitch community.
17 year old Chanie Altman lives with her disabled twin brother Moishe, her Baba (which means Grandmother), and her father and mother.
Chanie has the dream of graduating high school and going on to Julliard to study to become a singer. Singing makes Chanie happier than anything else in this world, but her parents want her to stay and study her religion. They are strict and limit what she is able to do including, only allowing her to read and listen to religious books or music. There is no tv in her house.
Chanie has new neighbors in what is basically an all Jewish neighborhood, and they aren’t Jewish. They are black. Now to Chanie, that doesn’t matter to her, but her parents have a pregiduce towards them because they are “bad”, but Chanie has a mind of her own and she’s curious about them. Though Chanie’s mom is very strict, she finds ways to meet her neighbor and finds out her name is Jade, and she is just home for the Summer from college. Chanie starts to find ways to spend time with Jade by lying to her parents and meeting up with her. Chanie has two good friends named Devorah-leah and Faygie, who strongly follow their religious views.
One day Chanie, Devorah Leah, and Faygie go to the mall to hand out candles to anyone that would accept them and unfortunately not everyone is wanting them. Chanie is actually pushed down by a boy that was with a group of friends of his. Surprisingly one of this boys friends helps Chanie up, and from that moment on her life had changed weather she knew it then or not. The boy’s name was David. When David tells her that he is Jewish as well, she is taken back by it, because he dresses just plain clothed unlike religious Jewish people do. David tells her then that he’s not religious. Chanie already feels like she has disobeyed just by talking with him, because that isn’t allowed, but she can’t stop thinking about him.
David talks Chanie into meeting up with him without her parents knowing. Chanie knows it’s wrong, but she just wants to get to know him so she tells herself into thinking that it would be just one time to tell David that it was wrong and that she couldn’t see him any more. Before they know it they are meeting every Friday. Chanie’s gets out of the house by telling her mother that she is going to take her brother Moishe (who is Chanie’s twin, but there were troubles while they were being born that caused Moishe to have special needs)for a walk to the park.
Chanie tells David how she dreams of being able to learn how to become a professional singer, but she knows that her parents believe that she should only go on to do religious studies and forget about the music. Chante isn’t allowed to even sing in front of strangers because she is suppose to be modest.
The men her family for 5 generations only ever completed the worldly study up until grade five so they could learn the basics. Then they left school to focus on their religious studies and to work. One of Chante’s older brothers didn’t ever learn to read but he knows Chante had so she helps him to learn.
Chante and her parents have noticed her Grandmothers health is deteriorating because she isn’t eating or wanting to do anything like she normally does. When her mother takes her to the doctors they cant find anything wrong so they send her home.

David surprises Chante with an application to Julliard to live her dream and Chante is overwhelmed with feelings. David tells her that she is good enough to go, but Chante is torn between what her parents want her to do with what she really wants to do. With a lot of thought Chante decides to send in her application and is accepted for an audition. Chante continues to not tell her family what is going on because she doesn’t think they would understand her dreams of becoming a singer. When Chante goes for her audition, she did an amazing job, that Julliard told her to expect an answer soon in the mail. Now because she doesn’t want her parents to know about it she gives them David’s address to send it too. It only takes a little while for Julliard to send her an acceptance letter. She can’t believe her dream can actually come true. Inside though she feels guilty for not telling her parents about it. She had won a scholarship through her school that would pay for it, everything seemed to be falling into place accept her parents now knowing.

Chante’s Mama depends on her a lot when it came to Moishe. She always had to come home after school to make sure that he was fed. Chante didn’t understand why she was responsible for it, but she didn’t hate Moishe for it. She loved him. Soon though Chante she notices Moishe doesn’t want to eat like he usually does. He normally has a good appetite, but he’s always tired and not wanting to eat or drink. When he Chante’s mama takes him for a check up they don’t find anything wrong and just send him home. A few weeks go by like this when they call the dr to come see him, because he is now having trouble breathing. They called their spiritual advisor, to come bless Moishe as well. Unfortunately Moishe passes away and with them being Jewish their custom is the person who has passed away has to be buried with-in 24 hours. Chante is crushed that her twin is gone, she doesn’t know what to do., so she keeps herself busy.
Now Chante is surprised that her parents have set her up with another Lubavicther named Shumli for a possible match. At first Chante doesn’t want to like Shumli Wexler because she had David, but as the date went on she started to like him. She feels like she has known him forever, but he wasn’t David so she wouldn’t let it go any farther than that date. She actually excuses herself from the table to go to the washroom and ends up leaving him at the restaurant.
On Chanie’s way home she can tell something wasn’t right because there were people rioting outside. When Chanie gets home she has her parents yelling at her for leaving Shumli but glad she arrived home safely because it turns out that The Rebbe was heading home from visiting his father in-laws grave with his entourage when their volkswagon driven by his aides went through a light at the corner of Utica and President, and stuck another car who jumped a curb and struck a little boy and his cousin. The little boy died. This started the rioting, because they thought it was racially motivated. This riot went on for the rest of the day and through the night.
During the riot, Chanie and her family stayed inside. David comes to give Chanies family some groceries to make sure that they had enough to eat. This made Chanies Mama open her heart a little towards him and actually thanks him.
Chanie’s Papa , brother Yossi and Chanie all go to get one on her nephews off of the bus, who had been at camp. She couldn’t believe how her streets looked like a war zone. They find people listening to a Al Sharpen telling them to attack all Jews.
When they return to their street after getting her nephew, they find an Ambulance in front of their house. While they were gone, Chanie’s Mama askes Natan ( Chanie’s father) not to hate her because his Mama is gone. She tells him that she checked on her just before dinner and she seemed to be doing better, but she began yelling how the Natzi’s were coming to get her, and by the time she made it upstairs to her, she had a chair at the window with it open, yelling she had to get away from them. Though she tried to calm her down, Natan’s mama jumped out the window.
Chanie’s father is at a loss. He doesn’t understand how he could lose first Moishe and now his mother?
With whats has happened Chante starts to wonder if she really should be leaving her family..
At the end of the night the police are able to get rioting under control.

With her brother passing and the rioting Chanie’s mother starts to see things differently and decides to be honest with her daughter about her life. She tell’s Chanie how proud of her She was. That when she was just a little old then Chanie, she left crown heights and married a man who she thought would help her with her training her voice, but soon he turned mean and so she left and divorced him. She came back to Crown Heights and returned to Hashen and he made her life better because she came back to him.
After Chanie tells her parents about David she still meets him on Sunday like usual but this was to say goodbye.
David proposes to her telling her that he’ll become a Lubavitch, but Chanie knows that David would never be happy with so many rules to follow. She tells David that she must follow through with her studying, so that what her grandparents went through, wasn’t in vein. She tells David goodbye and runs away.
1 year later in Crown Heights:
So much had changed in a year. The black community and the Lubavitch community actually started to play basketball games together. They were able to put behind the hurt they caused each other. Life went on.
One day in August Chante was doing outreach with friends at Grand Central Station, when she sees David holding a girls hand. Chante takes a deep breath and looks at her hand and smiles at Shumli’s ring on her finger.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
531 reviews1 follower
June 20, 2021
This is what happens when someone from outside a community tries to tell its story. I know that the author consulted with people, and had readers, etc., But from the use of the Hungarian “Babi” instead of “Bubbe”, to the mother’s inexplicable harshness and contradictory messages, it didn’t ring true. The story is based on facts, and uses some actual events and people’s names, but it doesn’t work. There’s nothing “fundamentalist” about a woman not singing professionally, it would be the same in a modern Orthodox Jewish community.
Profile Image for Zac.
65 reviews
August 1, 2021
I read this book in junior high or high school and I remember enjoying it a lot.
Profile Image for Christine Mahan.
22 reviews
August 4, 2021
A wonderful read. A gripping tale about a special and very talented girl; her struggle between family traditions and practices; what choice can make the greatest and most effective impact to help her family in a World Outside
Profile Image for Rebecca.
2,359 reviews27 followers
February 11, 2015
In NYC’s Crown Heights in 1991, 17 year old Chanie belongs to a conservative, fundamentalist sect of Hasidic Jews called Lubavitchers. Chanie is growing frustrated with Lubavitchers’ restrictions on girls, from enveloping clothing to no contact with non-related boys to avoidance of anyone not of the community, but most especially the restrictions on singing. Chanie has a glorious voice, and dreams of becoming an opera singer, but knows her parents—who follow their Rebbe without question—will never allow it. Her mother in particular is harsh and cold with Chanie, and Chanie believes her mother blames her for being born too slow and thus starving her twin of oxygen, leaving him at an infantile level of mental development. Then Chanie meets David, a non-Hasidic Jew, who makes her dream of a different life. When the Crown Heights rios arise, though, Chanie must take a hard look at her life and herself and think what Hashem—her God—truly wants from her.

Hoo boy, was this a can of worms for me, so I’ll just start with the easy stuff. The book is well-structured and mostly well-written, though most of the dialogue sounds oddly formal and unnatural—possibly trying to convey translation from Yiddish. The world is well built and explained. The main characters mostly ring true, and are all flawed and easily told apart, though the secondary characters blend together. I also didn’t find the mother’s reversal of feeling all that believable, though. Baba, on the other hand, was heartbreakingly believable. I do question how much interest middle school kids will have in seventeen year old girls contemplating marriage, though—a better fit for high school, though nothing objectionable for MS.

Now the hard stuff. I find books/stories like this completely predictable if the writer is sympathetic to the religion in question. The character may flirt with changing his or her life, but in the end will see the error of his or her ways and knuckle down and conform like a good little whatever. For me, that’s the main message I get here. The only available path to happiness is conformity, blind obedience to parents and religious leaders, abandonment of personal gifts, dreams, and desires, and withdrawal from the wider world and those different from you. You must give in to the emotional blackmail of your family and friends and be who they want you to be. What a terrible message to send kids.

On the flip side, the message could be that faith is about belief without proof, trust in tradition and experience, and that when you are so privileged to live in a blessed and unique community, it’s worth any sacrifice. Family is worth more than self, and your life is what you make of it within whatever bounds you must accept. I’m not religious, but I could see a lot of people taking strength from this—though I’d find it more believable for Chanie if I really felt she had religious conviction. She says a couple of times that she does, but more often she questions, and I’m just not getting conviction from her. I just wish there were a better compromise for Chanie, but fundamentalist sects don’t acknowledge the word “compromise.”

Still, just because this book drove me crazy and I knew exactly what would happen doesn’t mean it won't appeal to some kids. It is a window into a different world, and could help kids understand friends from more religious backgrounds, or just understand different cultures. I could see it provoking great discussions, though that could end up pretty tricky depending on the situation (I’d rather kids have the chance to discuss it than not, though, if they’re going to read it).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
2 reviews
September 22, 2014
The World Outside, by Eva Wiseman all revolves around the main
character Chanie, a Lubavitcher Haisdic girl, living in 1991. Chanie is a seventeen year old, on her last year of high school. She lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Like all Lubavitcher girls religion is very important to her. "Go for Sunday dollars and ask his advice. The Rebbe will tell you what to do" (Wiseman 110).Following her religion Chanie is expected to attend a seminary and get married right after she graduates from high school. " 'Mama and Papa want me to go to seminary after I graduate and become a religious teacher"(Wiseman 50). Chanie has a amazing singing voice and dreams of becoming an opera singer. Something that a Haisdic girl should never want to become. She is very curious about what's going on in the world around her. When she meets a new Jewish guy, David, he introduces her to that world. Which makes Chanie see her own life differently. He tells her that she should apply for Julliard instead of becoming a teacher in her community. But then the accidental death of a black kid, which was caused by a Rabbi's vehicle, causes a three-day riot. Making the Blacks go after the Jews. "Everything will be okay by tomorrow, I thought to myself. The police will take care of everything"(Wiseman 190). That event helps Chanie decide what she is going to do in the future and proves that she is a strong young woman. "I opened my mouth again to tell them that my music was gone"
(Wiseman 156).
Chanie shows what a young women would feel like being torn between two completely different worlds. Which many of us can relate to. We all want to do one thing but something way different is expected of us. This book has many twists and turns which makes you want to read more. Although the ending is not what you would want it to be, it is very predictable. This may not be the best book I have ever read, but it allows you to learn more about the Haisdic religion, something I don't know very much about. I find that the most interesting books are the one's you learn something new in, if you agree, this is the perfect book for you.
Profile Image for Michelle Kidwell.
Author 39 books74 followers
September 14, 2015

The World Outside

by Eva Wiseman

Random House of Canada Limited

Tundra Books
Teens & YA, Children’s Fiction

Pub Date Apr 8, 2014

Chanie Altman is seventeen years old and lives in a Hasidic Jewish community in 1991. Her world centers around her religion, her faith and traditions. Chanie is also a twin her brother Moishe did not get enough oxygen at birth. Chanie’s family is strict her Mother will not allow her to be friends with anyone outside her faith, but she has a closeness with her Grandmother who survived Aushwitz.

Chanie’s Mother is strict not allowing her daughter to take part in many activities seemingly forgetting what it was like to be young.

Chanie loves music and dreams of going to Juliard but she has to sneak around getting the application and such because she knows her Mother will not approve. She believes Chanie should care for her brother and perhaps study at a religious school but Chanie has other dreams.

After her graduation Chanie’s twin brother Moishe dies and Chanie cannot help but blame herself because she feels it is because of her that he was starved of Oxygen at birth.

Later that Summer when an accident kills a colored child tensions between the Hasidic communities and the African American community only grows deeper so much so that a Jewish Scholar visiting from Australia is murdered and Chanie’s father is injured. Chanie’s grandmother becomes so disoriented feeling as if she is back in Poland and the Nazis are after her that she is fleeing the Nazis but she ultimately ends up dying but in the midst of all these tragedies Chanie’s mother begins to realize she may be wrong on some counts and things begin shifting as the tension between the Hasidic and African American community slowly begin shifting.

The World Outside is not just a coming of age story it’s a story of hope in the midst of loss as well as a story of overcoming prejudices.

I give this story five out of five stars

Happy reading….
Profile Image for Jessica.
338 reviews5 followers
May 4, 2014
This was an interesting read for me, not being from a Jewish background. I am a Christian & could understand some of the text much better because of this. Some of the vocabulary used was more 'religious' in nature & it was not until the end of the novel, that I realized there was a glossary, which would have helped readers without a religious background.

I found Eva Wiseman's writing style to be very flowy & smooth. She writes as though she is right in the story, as if telling her own story.

The story follows a young girl, Chanie, as she struggles to figure out what she should do with her life. She is a devout Lubavitcher Jew, who is slowly learning about the world outside her small community in New York City. She realizes that the things outside her faith are enticing & exciting, and she is curious to try them out, feeling they are not really all that bad.
Chanie begins to rebel quietly, making allowances for herself based on her own interpretation of what is acceptable and what is not, much to the chagrin of her parents. As Chanie grows older, a number of tragic events surround her family

Near the end of the book, after weighing the tragedies in her life as well as the many hard discussions with her parents, Chanie decides to abandon the world outside & remain in her faith, even though it was a hard decision.

Overall, I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars. It was well written & did have a good story, but it did not grab my attention as quickly as I would have anticipated. I did like the story, but it is not likely one to which I will return for a re-read in the near future.
Profile Image for Julia.
2,031 reviews59 followers
April 12, 2014
This YA novel about a Lubavitcher girl, who, when a public librarian suggests she read The Chosen, she doesn’t see how similar her disapproving, ok, also hateful and awful mom is to the one of the dads in that other novel. It's a terrible, abusive way to raise a child and I fear that two fictional parents in this very real community feel that it is acceptable.

Chanie loves to sing. She applies to Julliard, with the help of a Jewish boy who is not observant. Yes, it takes place in the spring and summer of 1991, when blacks rioted against their neighbors in the Orthodox community.

A couple days later: I really wish the author had done a better job explaining Chanie's choice. I saw The Chosen as a play last summer, but this book makes me want to reread Chaim Potok.

I received this book from Library Thing and Random House yesterday, and while I didn't love this book, I am curious to read more of the author's novels.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
September 28, 2014
Seventeen-year-old Chanie Altman has always led a sheltered life within her devout Lubavitcher Hasidic family in Crown Heights, New York. Set in the early 1990s, the story follows her journey to a life of possible freedom. Blessed with a lovely voice, she longs to sing secular songs, and when she meets David, a Jewish boy who decides to study with her older brother, he tells her about Juilliard and encourages her to apply. Despite her good grades, Chanie doesn't expect to attend college since the rebbe and the members of her religious community expect her to attend seminary instead. The book allows readers to glimpse her growing disenchantment with her family's traditional ways and with her religion and how she is drawn close to David. Although readers may expect Chanie to make certain decisions to leave the community behind, she might surprise them for reasons of her own. Since the story is set against the backdrop of violence toward the Jews by the African Americans in the neighborhood, there are vivid reminders of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany in the book's pages. I'm not sure about Chanie's choice in the end, but I did enjoy reading the book and having some insight into a world about which I knew very little.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
23 reviews
September 11, 2016
I am conflicted about this book. Although it was okay, I am hesitant to give it more than two stars.

The book follows Chanie, a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York in 1991. It touches on her strict religion, her struggles with her parents, her love of singing (Which is forbidden by her religion) and her first love with a non-Lubavitcher boy she meets. All of this is set against the backdrop of the Crown Heights riots.

While this book was good, it dragged a bit at times and I found the ending to be confusing and off-putting. I understand that Chanie's mother had been through the same type of rebellion, it did not follow that Chanie would have the same regrets. Especially since Chanie was accepted into one of the best music colleges in the world. This was a good moment to show that children do not have to follow the same paths as their parents - that they can choose to do something different and make it work. But Chanie chose to stay in the strict religious sect and never spread her wings and experience the outside world. At least Chanie's mother made an informed choice.
Profile Image for Sherrie.
1,482 reviews
May 2, 2014
I was excited to win a copy of The World Outside by Eva Wiseman through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. The book takes place in 1991 in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. Chanie, the book's main character is a Lubavitcher girl, part of a strict Hasidic sect of Judaism. Chanie has always accepted her culture and her sheltered lifestyle but has begun to rebel a bit as she grows older. When she meets a David a Jewish boy who is not Hasidic she begans to look at her families lifestyle through a new lens. David encourages Chanie to stretch her wings a bit but she is conflicted about choosing between the secular life and the spiritual one. In the end Chanie must make a choice on what world she will embrace. The World Outside does a great job of showing the reader what life is like for a Hasidic teen. Although, it may seem restrictive to those on the outside to those within it is conscious decision and provides a sense of community. The writing had a good flow and kept your interest. I will definitely be reading other books by this author. 3.5 stars!
Profile Image for Ceh131973.
553 reviews5 followers
August 12, 2016
Growing up in NJ during the 1980's and 90's I recall hearing the news about the incident in Crown Heights. I have some experience with Lubavitch in a community that I worked security in which was a mix with blacks. There was quite some conflict. It was a class of cultures.

[The World Outside] by [Eva Wiseman] was simply written but at times seemed to be like an after school special plot. It seems to be written for a specific community who can not read it. I would have liked to see more about the external conflict mixed with the internal conflict. Given the setting I feel this should have played a bigger role and given those not familiar with the history more background.
Profile Image for Amy Ratner.
23 reviews
August 24, 2014
** spoiler alert**
I am torn about giving this two or three stars. I commend the author for not repeating the same story told a million times before - the girl leaves her family and hates being Lubavitcher..... However I find it difficult to believe that her mother would repeat the same punishment imposed on her to her daughter. Lubavitcher is a pretty open community where there would have been many outlets for Chanie to have shared her gift. The story of the riots was interesting and different. I would have liked it if the author explored chanys decision more on her grandmother experiences.
Profile Image for Dana.
2,412 reviews
April 2, 2014
Fascinating and captivating story. Chanie, a senior in high school, is a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, in 1991. In this book, we learn about the riots during that time there, the extreme fundamentalism of the Hasidic Jewish community and see how Chanie struggled with her love of music and singing and a young man while those things were forbidden to the Hassidic Jews. A coming of age story with romance, rebellion, family and religion playing large parts. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.
380 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2015
Interesting to read a coming-of-age, identity story written from the perspective of a Lubavitcher teen. I would love to discuss this with a multicultural group of teens: should Chanie leave her tight-knit family & culture in order to pursue a dream only available to her outside her cultural group? What happens if you have a crush on someone whose life is completely different from yours?

Overall, I think some elements of the story could use more detail and fleshing out, but I appreciate the questions this book raises.
Profile Image for Anna.
47 reviews
March 31, 2016
Not sure how to feel about this one. Those saying the protagonist's voice is immature have never been a seventeen-year-old girl in an insanely overprotective, superreligious family. I can say for sure that Chanie's thoughts and actions made sense to me, with that background. However, I did not like the ending at all. Did it make sense? Sure. Was it the right ending for our main character? Damned if I know, but I don't think so. That's not to say the book isn't well-written. It definitely is, and very touching at several points. But boy does that ending frustrate me.
Profile Image for Edward Sullivan.
Author 5 books204 followers
October 20, 2014
An absorbing story centered on a teen belonging to a Lubavitcher Hasidic sect in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The depiction of this Hasidic community is often fascinating but the narrative suffers from unconvincing plot developments and other contrivances. The racial tensions between the Hasids and their black neighbors also lacks explanation and depth.
Profile Image for Kelly Sierra.
1,017 reviews47 followers
April 9, 2014
Much like I am Forbidden this book touches upon the lives of Hasidic Jews and what it means to live in a world full of non-orthedox Jews. It's a quick short read, and full of questions about a hiddne society that is mixed within our world.

Thank You Edelweiss.

Profile Image for Ann.
252 reviews71 followers
March 8, 2015
I'm of two minds with this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed reading about a culture I didn't know much about before. On the other hand, I'm not a fan of stories where so I can't 100% recommend this.
Profile Image for Margaret.
226 reviews2 followers
July 25, 2015
Interesting, but I think it tried to combine too many issues/points of conflict -- which makes it probably more like real life but less successful as fiction for me. I found Eishes Chayil's HUSH much more involving as a look at the life of a girl in a Hasidic community.
Profile Image for Beth.
405 reviews
Want to read
March 18, 2014
ARC supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Profile Image for Patricia.
380 reviews2 followers
May 5, 2014
I liked the tension at the heart of this story: the pull of the wider world vs. the values and comforts of the known. I had trouble believing the Juiliard subplot.
Profile Image for Fiona.
281 reviews
May 26, 2014
Quick read... I know nothing about the Lubavitch, so it was very interesting in that respect. Plus, it prompted me to read more about the Crown Heights riots.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
27 reviews
August 23, 2014
A great story, but the writing was rushed and the dialogue was trite. Could have been so much more.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews

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