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Disobedience

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3.70  ·  Rating details ·  7,752 ratings  ·  769 reviews
A small, close-knit Orthodox Jewish community in London is the setting for a revealing look at religion and sexuality in Alderman's frank yet heartfelt debut novel, Disobedience. The story begins with the death of the community's esteemed rabbi, which sets in motion plans for a memorial service and the search for a replacement. The rabbi's nephew and likely successor, Dovi ...more
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Touchstone Books
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Amy Fabry-Jenkins I think saying it was barely a lesbian story is harsh, it is a story about women who have had a lesbian relationship. It's mainly about other aspects …moreI think saying it was barely a lesbian story is harsh, it is a story about women who have had a lesbian relationship. It's mainly about other aspects of their lives, their relationships to the Jewish Orthodox community, comfort with silence and themselves. It is more complex than that. I was satisfied with the ending, it had healing and not much judgement.(less)
Em This is absolutely fine for a 16 year old. It is an interesting book that I'm sure you'll enjoy. The book is not as racy as the film trailer suggests.…moreThis is absolutely fine for a 16 year old. It is an interesting book that I'm sure you'll enjoy. The book is not as racy as the film trailer suggests. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,752 ratings  ·  769 reviews


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Sara
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Swaye
Sometimes a book comes along that you just click with. Sometimes you can't even fully explain why. Its strange for me to favourite a book that I don't resonate with in some way but this book is just so well written, has such a soft, warm essence, and is such a pleasure to sink into. Disobedience is an unexpected, yet delightful new friend. I took my time with it and relished every page.
Joshie
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The only force that pushed me to read this book was the trailer of its film adaptation starring the two Rachels (Weisz and McAdams). Only having a vague idea that this included lesbianism (one of my favourite topics) in the Orthodox Jewish community — deducing from the nicely made trailer — I was surprised with how this came across as lesbophobic. Sadly while I found the religious aspect strong and educational, even going at length to detail some Orthodox Jewish practices and beliefs (and how th ...more
Anna
Life in the orthodox jewish community in Hendon is directed by rules in every minute detail. What to eat, how to prepare it, when to eat it, how to speak, when and to whom, whom to take by the hand, how to dress and many, many more. Whatever you need, The Book has an answer to every conceivable question. It explains why every believer needs it like water, why gossiping is forbidden, why certain things, like meat and milk, need to always be kept separate, why women are different from men, why mar ...more
Rachel
For the most part I enjoyed reading Disobedience, but it's one of those books that's somehow greater than the sum of its parts. I was having a hard time putting my finger on what exactly was working for me about this, because when I started to pick it apart, I realized there wasn't a whole lot to praise. It wasn't the writing, certainly, which I found rather sophomoric (more on that in a minute); it wasn't the plot, which was quite paint-by-numbers; and it wasn't the characters, who were pretty ...more
Daniela
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ronit, estranged daughter of a famous London Rabbi, returns to her childhood home after the death of her father. This Jewish Orthodox community looks at her with suspicion and curiosity. Ronit is everything that the women in the community aren’t supposed to be. She’s independent, she hasn’t married and probably doesn't want to, she doesn’t observe the Shabbat, she eats non-kosher food. Oh, and she’s loud. She doesn’t keep silent. Every day, every moment, she tries to be the opposite of what she
...more
BrokenTune
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Interesting and some of the parts are certainly thought-provoking, but overall Alderman's writing just doesn't agree with me.

I loved the exploration of some of the customs in that particular conservative Jewish community that the story is set in. I loved the juxtaposition of Ronit's thoughts on her own life, which is messy but in which she is herself, and Ronit's former life, which seemed to be dominated by conformity and submission.

It’s difficult to work out the meaning of life in Hendon. I m
...more
Margaret
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5/5

I hadn’t heard of this book, which was first published in 2006, until I saw a movie trailer in the theater for the motion picture version. I’m always curious to read books about people who were once part of strict or fundamentalist religious groups and who leave those groups to live outside the bounds of that strict group. And this book does offer one such character: Ronit, who is the daughter and only child of the great Rav (lead Rabbi) of their synagogue in her closely-knit north London
...more
Ieva Andriuskeviciene
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
Really enjoyable read touching very sensitive matters. First fiction book I ever read about orthodox jews. Expected a love story, but got way much more. It was very interesting to read about orthodox rituals and some beliefs, as I am very interested in all kinds of radical religions and cults.
It is a story about freedom about how difficult is to live when everything is decided for you. Where only expectation from a woman is to be fruitful and stay silent.
Beautiful style and a bit if sarcasm. H
...more
Erica Chapman
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well written. Wouldn’t exactly say it’s “queer-friendly”
Jessica Woodbury
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, religion
What a stunning book. I've been wanting to read it since I saw the film version earlier this year, which I liked quite a lot. Books about religion and the struggle with it are of particular interest to me, since it's a subject in my own writing. And this book is definitely one of the best of the few out there that really dive into the topic.

Perhaps it's not a surprise that it's a book about a community of orthodox Jews, as there's much more of a literary tradition around Jewish life than most ot
...more
Ana
The last chapter was so wonderfully serene that I felt the need to read it twice!

… you don’t have a choice about what you are, you have a choice about what you show. You always have a choice about whether you “out” yourself. Every time you meet someone new, it’s a decision. You always have a choice about whether you practice.

Is it odd that I don’t feel like watching the film adaptation? I don’t want it to alter my own idea of what Ronit, Esti, and Dovid are like with each other. I might check
...more
Bettie
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0076x3s

Description: By the age of 32, Ronit has left London and transformed her life. She has become a cigarette-smoking, wise-cracking, New York career woman, who is in love with a married man.But when Ronit's father dies she is called back into the very different world of her childhood, a world she thought she had left far behind. The orthodox Jewish suburb of Hendon, north London is outraged by Ronit and her provocative ways. But Ronit is shocked too by the co
...more
Stanley Bloom
Mar 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
Until not so many decades ago they hardly existed, yet the literary world went merrily round without them. Now they abound. Universities have them, adult education organisations have them, country retreats have them, seaside resorts have them, private individuals organise their own – ‘creative writing’ courses.

In my view, the most they can achieve is to produce a few competent writers from among the multitudes who pass through. But invariably missing is the magic, the sparkle, the extra somethin
...more
mj
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Winner of the Orange Award for New Writers. I picked up the book for two reasons, and discovered this accolade on the front cover. For one, it had looked interesting to me and was on my TBR. Its also the July read for the Jewish Book Club, whom I occasionally write a review for. I actually hope I'm not the only one to read and review it this month. I thought it was great - really great!

The story is told in its blurb to be about a gay daughter of an Orthodox Jewish Community in London. Which is a
...more
alex
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I pretty much just read this bc of the rachel/rachel movie that's coming out. realised I don't know anything abt judaism, so I learnt some stuff which was cool
Lady H
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Disobedience started out well, but steadily declined as it went along. At first, I was immediately drawn in by the splendid writing, which had a lyrical quality to it, but even that grew stale as the book went on, becoming not delightful but pretentious and annoying. But I think the main issue I had was that I expected something from this book that I didn't get.

The plot is...bare-bones. When Ronit returns to her Orthodox Jewish community and finds her old lover Esti married to a man, I expected
...more
Doug
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like many who are reading this circa 2018, I first became aware of it due to the recent film version, and wanted to read the book prior to seeing it. I must say it exceeded my expectations: terrific prose, an interesting and pro/e-vocative storyline, and characters that have specificity and real depth. I also learned much about Orthodox Judaism I didn't have a clue about, and much of the book gave me things to ponder and think about long after I've finished. What's not to like?
Rachel
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Difficult to believe that this is a debut novel it is so well paced and the characters truly came to life for me. Set in an Orthodox Jewish community in England where strict adherence to Orthodox ways are the price of admission to be part of the community. However, what happens to those in the community who are "other" can they stay and be part of it or must they leave? Interestingly this book gives it to you both ways. Ronit the Rav's (highly respected rabbi) daughter chooses to leave because s ...more
Jeimy
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I picked this one up after seeing the movie trailer and it was not what I expected. There was a predatory lesbian aspect to Ronit that I thought we had gone beyond in the 21st century. I understand the point the author was making about a woman's role in this society, but I wonder if this retrograde trope was necessary in order to do it.
Elizabeth
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
A timeless story about living with the consequences of our choices.
Aubrey
Queer History Month 2019 still has a few days left, but this is probably the queerest work, fictionwise, that I'll encounter this time around. It is all about the queering, and not just of the sexuality but of the religion, the family, even the chronic debilitation, and as a mentally ill bisexual atheist with Catholic aesthetics and a loathing for soft lines that need to be hard and hard lines where there needs to be a respect for individual negotiations of consent, this book was, in a word, soo ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really beautifully written and thoughtful.
Miriam Drori
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll begin with a sort of disclaimer. I grew up sort of in Hendon, where this book is set, and sort of in the same community. As I read this novel, I felt a tingle going through me each time the word 'Hendon' flashed at my eyes. I've never read any other story set in this place. Would I have enjoyed it so much without having such a similar background? I can't possibly tell, because without it I would have been a different person with different likes and dislikes. I hope I would have enjoyed it a ...more
Chava
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alta
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Magnificent and thoughtful and complicated—-just like growing up jewish and not entirely straight. I found Ronit fascinating with her ambiguities, the deep love and despair and hope and a strong sense of rebelliousness. Esti too with her deep despair and even deeper hope wading through life was compelling and heartbreaking. Dovid and his headaches personified felt greatly deserving of compassion. I did not expect the book to end as it did, and also i expected it to end exactly as it did. Beautif ...more
Michael Kotsarinis
Worth a read, it is a book that mainly addresses the issue of identity. The things that shape us and the burdens we carry and the possibility of coming to peace with society and ourselves. Many interesting facts about Orthodox Jewish communities too.
Alla
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was a disappointment. First of all the book description is misleading. The book is about two Jewish Orthodox gay women who make different choices. One chooses to stay in the Orthodox community and the other leaves. The description says nothing about homosexuality of the characters being so central to the narrative. I think the omission is deliberate as it enables the publisher to market this book to a general Jewish audience.
Most chapters consist of three parts:
1. Wisdom from Jewish
...more
Melanie Stout
Jun 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
You know, I put a great deal of thought into how I wanted to present this review. I hated this book. With a passion. And when I hate things I tend to tear them apart with humor or passive aggression or just flat out snark. And I thought of a lot of humorous rant filled speeches about this book. But. I’m not going to do that.

This book doesn’t really earn the right to have amusing reviews. Frankly, I think it’s a little bit dangerous, especially to young LGBT people. It presents homosexuality in
...more
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Play Book Tag: Disobedience - Naomi Alderman 4/5 4 18 Jun 25, 2018 12:17PM  
Play Book Tag: Disobedience - 4 stars by Naomi Alderman 3 22 Jul 25, 2017 04:40AM  
Jewish Book Club: Disobedience 4 22 Jul 23, 2017 03:13PM  

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Naomi Alderman (born 1974 in London) is a British author and novelist.

Alderman was educated at South Hampstead High School and Lincoln College, Oxford where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She then went on to study creative writing at the University of East Anglia before becoming a novelist.
She was the lead writer for Perplex City, an Alternate reality game, at Mind Candy from 2004 th
...more

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