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The Rabbi's Daughter

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,216 ratings  ·  135 reviews
In this honest, daring, and compulsively readable memoir, Reva Mann paints a portrait of herself as a young woman on the edge—of either revelation or self-destruction. The daughter of a highly respected London rabbi, Reva was a wild child, spiralling into a whirlwind of sex and drugs by the time she reached adolescence. But as a young woman, Reva had a startling mystical e ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  1,216 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an amazing book - it far exceeded my expectations! I knew there would be tantalising sexy bits and I knew there would be fascinating insights in the inner world of the ultra-orthodox. But I wasn't expecting the depth of emotion, honesty & pain. I felt it wasn't so much about a woman torn between her search for God and a desire for sexual abandonment. At it's heart it was much more fundamental than that. It was really about the same things all of us want - love, safety & protec ...more
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The more I read of this book, the less I liked the author. For one thing, I hate it when people whine about their lousy childhoods and what a crap job their parents did. If you're going to trash your parents, at least have the decency to change the names and turn it into a novel. Also, this woman didn't know what she wanted. It was obvious that her husband and his Orthdox lifestyle was wrong for her but she was so desperate to fit in that she was willing to change everything about herself. The s ...more
Jennifer S. Brown
This is one of those memoirs that I read and think, "I want to be friends with this woman." Fascinating account of Mann--who is the granddaughter of the former chief rabbi of Israel--who strayed as far from orthodoxy as you can get but then went to the opposite extreme, becoming an Hasidic wife. She then reverts back to the other extreme. I wish there was more on how she lives her life today, but overall, I learned a lot about the ultra-conservative lifestyle and generally was glued to the book. ...more
Susan Albert
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers interested in the spiritual journey
Shelves: memoir
The Rabbi's Daughter is a book about carnality, the often uncontrollable desires and appetites of the body, and the religious codes that are used to control them. It is not for the faint-hearted reader, or for people who prefer to have sex with the lights off, or for those who are offended by open lewdness. That said, this memoir is a beautiful book, written by a woman whose life has been a bridge between the holy and the profane.

Reva Mann is the father-identified daughter and granddaughter of
Jun 06, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow this book was bad. Instead of successfully trashing orthodoxy all she basically does is depict herself as a severely messed up person - and writer - who is self pitying, victimized and incredibly weak and selfish. Instead of rebelling against a theology (and the one she comes from actually sounds refreshingly normal) she looks for love in all the wrong places and can't seem to find the very balance that her ancestors preached. I'm not sure how much of this story can be true - but believe me ...more
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaism
January 2008:
I really enjoyed this book and felt it was easy to read and extremely hard to put down.
Saw it at the library by chance and was drawn to the picture on the cover, thinking "whoa, cool blouse".
Reading the book itself, I smiled and laughed, cried and sympathised, and nodded my head in agreement with so much of what the author talks about.

Growing up in a country that was occupied during WW2 and still has many Jewish people living there, I had Jewish friends of the type Reva was when li
Ruth Jalfon
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very hard to put down but at the same time hard to read what this woman has put herself through. There seem to be some people in this world who from nature or nurture or both go to extremes in the way they live and it doesn't seem to matter what direction the extreme is. This is a first narrative tale, based on truth, of someone trying to find balance in her life after living through self-destructive hedonism then swinging totally the opposite way to also harmful fanatical religious orthodoxy. V ...more
Mar 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those trying to come to a standpoint in their lives
Recommended to Ari by: Jennefer
This was an amazing book. It was so interesting, to see the culture that Reva lived through. I got a great historical lesson of life as a Jew, and also a deep personal look at someone struggling to come through with her religion. I would recommend this to any memoir lover, but especially those who are trying to get through something that is largely apart of their lives. I thank Jennefer for the recommendation!
I couldn't put this book down while I was reading it - but I'm not sure I liked it, or the narrator, all that much either.

This is the story of Reva Mann, the daughter and granddaughter of two famous rabbi's, and her path from wild-child, to yeshiva/hasidic woman, to much more moderate woman. Along the way she gets married, has kids, gets cancer, says goodbye to both of her parents, makes peace with her intellectually disabled sister, and tries to find her path to God.

The story of this memoir is
Hilary Weinstein
The only word I can find for this book is interesting. I found that I was trying to read between the lines and find out what it was that the author was actually trying to say. Living a Modern Orthodox life myself, I found that I understood the way of life and what she was going through. However, I found the story lacking even though it kept me glued as I wanted to know the outcome.

Reva Mann was brutally honest and I do feel for her children in this as she has come from a completely secular lifes
I bought this memoir but I am not going to finish reading

The voice of this author comes across to me as depressed and bewildered. It seems as if she sees her problems (monstrously formidable as they are) as caused by her circumstances and the nasty people who have power over her.

In the end, she comes to an escape into new circumstances, and the narrative leaves off with the implication that this improves matters.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I always thought memoirs should be uplifting or, at the least, a story from which to learn. This memoir does neither. Well, ok, I learned that I don't like memoirs and will likely not read one for a very long while. This is for someone who thinks self-indulgent, thoughtless, behavior is inspirational. ...more
Sep 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It could be an interesting story, but I didn't think it was well written. She starts in the middle, without giving any background on herself or her family. Every so often she stops in the middle of something, and goes back to tell a bit about them, but it's not enough, and it interrupts the flow of the story. I was never convinced that she'd really changed and wanted a different kind of life. ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sad, depressing and irritating!I could not find any sympathy for the heroine. Even if her insights into the ultra-orthodox community are very honest, the constant change of direction in life and lack of understanding what exactly she is looking for made me uncomfortable.
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
racy book about a conservative jewish sect in Israel. Fabulous.
Danielle Bragin
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it, read it in two days, and it resonated with me.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Newcomb
A slightly self obsessed autobiography about a London wild child who joins a cult in Israel and finally escapes. It is quite interesting hearing about the cult which is the usual hypocritical sexism carried out for an invisible friend, but one can't help but think that all of her problems are self brought on. ...more
Sea Urchin
Oh man, did it take me a long time to finish this book! 1 or 2 years I think. I dropped it midway, and picked it back up where I left... I would give it 2.5 stars but unfortunately, goodreads only allows whole numbers :)

Anyway, I really got glued to the first half of the book and thought it was great! It talked about all the laws in Judaism that the orthodox people in Israel follow, a real eye-opener and very interesting.

It was also interesting to see how a girl who was so much into sex and dr
Magdalena Wajda
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was recommended in a book group. I did not expect this memoir to grip me so much. Do not expect great literature when you start reading it. But expect honesty, reaching really deep. It's very hard to put down, as it's really well-written and grips you with the reality of words and feelings.
It's a trip into the world of Orthodox Jews, fascinating by itself. It is also a trip inside the mind and heart of a young woman, inadverdently harmed by her parents, looking for love (in all the wrong plac
Dec 24, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish
So now I finished it, and my initial pure smut impressions remain. The author's conflicts about Orthodoxy are depicted through her various sexual experiences and other bad decisions, basically. She's a messed-up chick, and while I occasionally felt sorry for her, I mostly felt disgusted by her choices, many of which were just ridiculous. I do give her credit for writing a pretty readable book (if you can handle the content, with its self-destructive misery and frequent graphic sex), and for disp ...more
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Young
Oct 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a few years ago, it was mentioned to me again recently by a friend to whom it had been recommended. This compelled me to write a review. This book frustrated and angered me. This is the story of a woman who ran away from her problems rather than facing them, and did so again and again. She turned to a religious community for escape rather than commitment, this community welcomed her and in response, she criticized them continuously. She got married despite having misgivings, nev ...more
Sep 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't stop reading this fascinating story of a British women in an arranged marriage.Her attempt to lead a strict Orthodox life breaks down when she realizes she really liked her old life of sex and drugs which she spends the bulk of the book telling us of her youth as a rabbi's daughter and granddaughter in London. (And of course how her parents didn't do right by her.) Most interesting was her portrayal of her immersion in the strict orthodox life, and the customs of the traditional bath, ...more
Feb 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is crazy. I wanted to read a little more about Jewish Orthodoxy so I chose this memoir. It has some very interesting information about the far right of Judaism. I think the lead character is incredibly flawed and hopelessly sad. She turns to orthodoxy after being raised as a secular rabbi's daughter in London. She moves to Israel, studies at a yeshiva, and has an arranged marriage with a Hassid. She reminds me of a rebellious minister's kid because she immerses herself in all sorts of ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admire Mann for her honesty in revealing her most personal struggles in her memoir, but I couldn't relate to her choices or her reactions to the challenges she faced in life. The time she spent in Yesheva and married to a Hassidic scholar were the most interesting parts of the book for me, but I found it hard to imagine that this rebellious, angry, sex-obsessed young woman convinced herself that they way to happiness and redemption lay in going to the opposite extreme. I didn't really like her ...more
Riva comes from a religious family, but does embrace her Judaism until she is in her early twenties and then she does so with vigor. she moves to Israel to study midwifery, but gets drawn to study her religion more closely. she becomes orthodox and marries a man that is newly indoctrinated as well. Riva believes this life will bring her closer to God and to being a good Jew, but she is not able to give up much of what she enjoyed in the secular world - including passionate lovemaking. An interes ...more
May 11, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another freakshow memoir of the Orthodox--great job... tawdry to boot... can't some people just keep it between them and their therapists and not make the rest of us look like wackos? (But we can get back into the kiruv conversation about bringing people back from the depths and trying to set them up in lives they were not meant to live, like this former promiscuous addict who married a BT chassid and moved into a Yiddish-speaking neighborhood and finally caved and had a torrid affair with the h ...more
Sep 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting insight into the private lives of Orthodox Jews -perhaps a bit voyeuristic. The writer, Reva Mann, was brave in exposing herself so much in this autobiography; it was hard to take sides with anyone. The characters were all flawed in various ways and these flaws impacted on their relationships with the people they were closest too. Was I eduacted by reading this book? Probably. Was I enriched by reading it? Definitely not and as I get older I want to read books that are either pure en ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you were expecting lots of sex and drugs (as per the blurb on this) then you'll be disappointed, however it is a vivid recounting of Reva's life as she bounces from one extreme to another in an attempt to find herself. The family's tragic dark secret is gradually revealed, along with the psychological damage inflicted on all of the members. One can only hope her own children were not too damaged by her behaviour, in the way she was affected by her own parents. We can look forward to reading t ...more
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“Mitzvah gedolah… It’s a mitzva to be happy always.” The” 1 likes
“But as I gain independence I remember how the rabbis warned that one good deed leads to another and one sin leads to hell. With each step I take away from Torah practice, I can feel the downward slide and fall from grace. My God consciousness is fading. I have grown apart from Him. I understand now why the laws are so strict, to keep the Creator at the foremost of one’s thoughts and deeds, bringing Him into every aspect of life. But I am becoming desensitized to holiness and sanctity.” 0 likes
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