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The Outside World

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,310 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
Tzippy Goldman was born for marriage. She and her mother had always assumed she’d graduate high school, be set up with the right boy, and have a beautiful wedding with white lace and pareve vanilla cream frosting. But at twenty-two, Tzippy’s fast approaching spinsterhood. She dreams of escape; instead, she leaves for a year in Jerusalem.

There she meets–re-meets–Baruch, th
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2004)
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Jan 06, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a book that is marketed to be about dating and relationships within Jewish Orthodoxy, but really it is a book about faith - what drives people's faith and belief in God, and why is there such a vast difference between people? It is a topic worthy of much discussion and deep introspection, so it was interesting to see it tackled within the context of Jewish Orthodoxy, a world most of us know little about.

I live in Brooklyn, probably just a few blocks from where this book takes place, so i
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Outside World by Torva Mirvis is at its heart about raising kids and the quest to have them adopt their parents' beliefs and traditions. Mirvis selects the fascinating and extreme world of Orthodox Jewish families in which to set this dynamic.

Mirvis employs a marvelously light touch which frees her to go deep inside her characters' motivations without ever seeming preachy or judgmental. Modern society has an expectation that our kids will be better off financially than we were, better educa
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
This would be a 3.5 if half stars were possible. I guess I'm in a festive Chanukkah mood so I'm rounding up. At first I found the author's tone annoying, thinking that she was critizing frumsters for being closed minded and modern Orthos for being too insincere. But as I got into the story it really got me thinking about whether its possible to be modern Orthodox and pass our values on to our children, without them moving too far to the right or the left. It's not great literature but it is a re ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this from my best friend having already read "The Ladies' Auxiliary", Mirvis' previous book. My best friend said the book was good, but she liked LA better; I actually disagree. While I did give both books 4 stars--I would say this is the better of the two.

Being a Reform Jew who is fascinated with the Orthodox world, it was interesting reading how they view 'our' world--but also about the laws and rules that govern their faith and practice. Mirvis does a great job of talking about the
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This was a great book! It manages to deal with religion and family relationships in a tender and entertaining way that is never disrespectful. I found it fascinating to learn more about modern Orthodox Jewish culture and beliefs, but most of all I was pulled in by the very real and multidimensional characters and the pain and joy they experience as families. It may be about Jewish families but the themes of fitting in, guilt, discovering truth for yourself and not comparing your spirituality to ...more
Cindie Harp
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I loved her first book and could not imagine liking another book as much. i was wrong. This was less a condemnation of a cultural group, and more of a loving empathetic window into 3 characters. I enjoyed the Orthodox setting but I think the story was universal and applicable to any one -- especially any woman.
Vitani Days
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro scritto in modo intelligente, un romanzo godibile e che si fa leggere in breve tempo. Stile quasi cinematografico, nel senso che sembra davvero di guardare un film mentre si legge, una di quelle commedie per famiglie dall'inevitabile lieto e lieto fine (anzi, strano che non ce ne abbiano ancora girata una, la vicenda si presta completamente e a tratti sembra scritta con quello scopo). E' una commedia, come ho detto, di quelle intelligenti.
L'ambiente è quello dell'ortodossia ebraica cont
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'd really give this story a 2.5. I enjoyed other Tova Mirvis books a lot more then this one.
Feb 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-fiction
There's a lot that's similar between this novel and the work that Mirvis would publish ten years later, "The Visible City." Both include characters who are asking questions about the meanings of their lives, and coming toe to toe with the realization that the path isn't always so certain, and their parents, children, spouses, etc have their own secret identities. I'm not quite sure why this one works a little better for me than the other--I likely can't completely discount my bias towards the st ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so engaging, I zipped right through it. It tells the story of a young couple, raised in opposite ends of the orthodox spectrum. While modern Baruch yearns for the authenticity of Chassidism, his Flatbush bred wife, Tzippy, is drawn to the independence she sees in the more modern approach. Clearly the author knows her way around the Jewish community, and little insights ring true over and over. But parts of her book were insulting and offensive. For example, Tzippy is a trained pres ...more
May 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book about two observant Jewish families whose lives are woven together. One is very frum, living in Brooklyn, while the other is very modern and lives in New Jersey. The daughter from the frummie family wants to become more worldly and modern, while the son from the modern family goes to Israel and becomes very frum. And then of course the two meet, fall in love, and get married. I love this book because it describes worlds I know so well, and describes them beautifully. It ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
The characters in this book are in the Orthodox Jewish community, and the 3rd person omniscient perspective lets you in on what both men and women are thinking about their places and choices in the world. In that way it is a good window into a world closed off from secular life, which is Oh-So in-your-face on the television and in the media in general.

Modern life seems so much about sharing every little detail about our personal lives that this was a glimpse into the privacy-that-was not so lon
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sam by: looked up Tova Mirvis after I read the women's auxiliary

The flap of this book was misleading. I thought this book was going to be about the marriage between Tzippy and Bryan. It starts out that way but that's not really what the book is about at all. I was a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to reading more of a love story (not that there wasn't one in the book but that was only a small part of it).

What this book is really about is family and faith. It's very down to earth and easy to read. I enjoy Tova MIrvis's books because they revol
May 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A very interesting look at the varieties of experience within the Orthodox Jewish community in and around New York City. A little slow to get started, but soon the characters and the story take over. The tale revolves around a young couple, Tzippy Goldman, whose mother had converted to Orthodoxy as a teenager and whose father is a n'er-do-well dreamer, and Baruch Miller, born to less observant parents who were nevertheless born into orthodoxy. There are so many points of comparison, and the reac ...more
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I love about Tova Mirvis is that her books are idea-driven instead of plot or character based (not that they lack in either of those). The characters are fascinating to me because they function as well developed members of the family, but also serve as archetypal examples. I loved that you could relate to them, but they were clearly extremes. This one revolves around a wedding at first, but really the story is about how to be religious and exist in the outside world. She doesn't resolve it ...more
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
I had a real hard time getting into this book. There was a lot of Jewish terminology in the begining that really slowed me down and eventually turned me off to the book. A friend recommended so I had a source to ask for definitions and I powered further into the book based on her and other's recommendations that it would get better. It did get better, less danting terms but because of the rough start I never connected with any of the characters. So dispite getting better, it really did not hold ...more
Jul 29, 2011 added it
This novel offered great insights into the everyday lives of modern Orthodox Jews. It's a truly thought-provoking, occasionally wrenching book. I found it fascinating to see the differences in the family members' level of belief and adherence to various traditions. My own family, a mix of Reform and Conservative Jews as well as non-Jews, experiences some of these same challenges. I'm not sure that non-Jews would be able to understand the rituals and some of the vocabulary Mirvis uses, though the ...more
Sep 10, 2012 rated it liked it
It's described on the flap as a story of a marriage between Bryan, who becomes Baruch after spending a year in Israel after high school, and Tzippy, raised in an Orthodox family to fulfill her destiny of graduating high school, marrying, and spending the rest of her life rearing children to be good Orthodox Jews themselves. Although it starts out as the story of how Bryan and Tzippy come together from two different worlds, it ends more as a story about faith and beliefs and the effect the modern ...more
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: jewish
I really wish Goodreads had a 10 star system instead of five. This book is probably closer to 2 3/4 stars. It was interesting but plot wise it was a bit scattered and left a bit to be desired.

Read this if you are interested in a look at how people fit their personal beliefs/faith into their every day lives and how the demands of the world can affect both beliefs and actions. Through the characters in her book Tova Mirvis looks at questions such as: Why should I be religious? What does it mean to
Feb 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
I liked it. But I liked Ladies Auxiliary better.

It is so interesting for me to read about Jewish culture and the variations that exist. There are so many parallels to Mormon culture. I wish that I had completed the book in time for book club so that I could have participated better in the conversation.

What things in our religion need to be followed exactly - commandments and what things are cultural and have some variations. What do we do to fit in and what do we do out of conviction? Do these
Nov 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was so disappointed in this book. After reading and liking "The Ladies Auxiliary" several years ago, I stumbled upon this one, not even knowing Mirvis had written a second novel. So I really looked forward to reading it.....but it was a pretty poor imitation of her first novel.

As much as I like to read about other cultures and religions in novels, this one was just overboard with all of the Jewish lore, legend, language, and customs. The outline of the story was interesting, but all of the TED
This was an enjoyable read, a great look at family dynamics and how people and relationships change as children grow into adults and as life just happens. I liked the way the perspective shifted between various characters. I was reminded of Anne Tyler's novels in both the one theme of independence vs community and in the way the characterizations of so many different people seemed so human and likable in all their imperfections.

An added bonus was the view into orthodox Jewish culture. I had to l
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Struggles with faith--how much is too much, how much is not enough in an Orthodox Jewish community in NY and then a much smaller community in Memphis. We get to see through the eyes of a teenager, mothers and fathers, and the main characters young adults preparing for and entering into the first year of marriage. There is no neat little bow to tie it all up at the end. Just like life, there are loose ends and the struggle continues. I loved her other book "The Ladies ...more
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really liked this second book from Tova Mirvis. It's not a sequel to The Ladies Auxiliary, but does continue the discussion of Judaism. It's about a young jewish couple in New York and their marriage. They do move to Memphis, but the place is mostly incidental. I learned about different "degrees" of Judaism--fascinating and realistic to see the young people searching for meaning in their religious traditions. Most of all I liked seeing the main characters grow as people and seeing their relati ...more
Dec 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I wanted to like this book more than I did; the subject was interesting and I really liked Mirvis' other book that I have read. She is an Orthodox Jew and one of the things I like about reading her books is the chance to see how a religious person writes about her religion and culture for outsiders who don't much about it. This book raised a lot of interesting questions in my mind about my own life and my own writing, but ultimately I wasn't that impressed with it. I felt like she created many i ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-people
I really enjoyed her first novel and so I was looking forward to seeing how her writing grew and matured. The theme of this book was highly interesting to me: grappling with faith and how one's religious order tries to limit or encourage the expression of one's faith. Interesting ideas began to foment within the storyline of each and every character, but Mirvis never brought it to enough of an emotional place to really make any kind of impact. The entire novel felt like an overlong introductory ...more
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: just-fun
I grabbed this from the library when I was going down the shelf, looking for something else. It sounds terrific - I HOPE it's as interesting as it sounds.

Not riveting, but enjoyable, presenting the voices of several characters as they struggle with life and with their relationship with Judaism - all undergoing changes of various kinds. I like that the author doesn't seem to have an agenda - she sympathisizes with all the characters, wherever they're at in their practice (I was worried that the b
Granny Babs
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read her previous novel, The Ladies Auxiliary, a few years ago and really liked it. As an active, practicing Mormon, I find so much in common with Orthodoxy in the Jewish faith. This book is also about Orthodox Jews, but it's a tangle between two very different families who end up being joined by marriage between a son and a daughter from each family. Many of the issues brought up - spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual - seem very universal. I thoroughly enjoyed this story - it's full ...more
Dec 11, 2008 rated it liked it
After reading Tova Mirvis' first book, The Ladies Auxiliary, I looked forward to reading this novel which is NOT a sequel. However, she does base the book in the Jewish Orthodox culture. I found this book a refreshing look on the interplay between modern social trends and the timeless traditions of religious culture. Again, I could identify with the characters although I am not Jewish. I truly appreciate that Ms. Mirvis can write a realistic novel without including any of the foul language, expl ...more
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I grew up in the small Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee, where I felt both what was grounding about being part of a such an enclosed world as well as what was stifling. This became the subject of m first novel, The Ladies Auxiliary, which I started writing when I no longer living in Memphis. Being away from home enabled me to look back and it and explore my own ambivalence about bel ...more
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“used to put on their warmest pajamas, pile their blankets” 0 likes
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