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An Unorthodox Match

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,554 ratings  ·  304 reviews
California girl Lola has her life all set up: business degree, handsome fiancé, fast track career, when suddenly, without warning, everything tragically implodes. After years fruitlessly searching for love, marriage, and children, she decides to take the radical step of seeking spirituality and meaning far outside the parameters of modern life in the insular, ultraorthodox ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,554 ratings  ·  304 reviews

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Angela M
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it

Yaakov, a Talmud scholar is grieving the loss of his wife, struggling to care for his children, maintain a house, and continue his studies. He is blinded by his grief, his financial burdens and his children are suffering. He leaves much of the home responsibilities and child care to his troubled teenage daughter who is also struggling with their new reality. Leah is trying to find herself, wants a better life, after losing her job with a company closed down for fraud, after a long term relations
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Jordan Hanley who invited me to check out a digital galley via Netgalley. All opinion expressed are my own.

Happy pub date!

Prior to reading, I had absolutely no experience with Naomi Ragen's novels. However, after reading An Unorthodox Match, I find myself willing to seek out her other books. I felt that the exploration of different faiths, love, happiness, and acceptance weaved together to make a compelling story. From my personal reading experience, it was the
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I really liked An Unorthodox Match. The writing was not spectacular and the story was a bit obvious, but I thought Ragen did a really good job of dealing with a complicated and fraught topic. Leah is in her mid 30s. Her grandparents were practicing Jews, but her mother rejected religion and brought her up with little structure and too much freedom. After more than her share of bad experiences, Leah searches for structure and belonging in an orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. Yakov is a recen ...more
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Naomi Ragen Fans, Religious, Romance
4 Incredibly Insightful Stars
* * * * Spoiler Free
No author wants a low scoring review. After all, writing books and then hitting that publish button is like giving birth. Once their creation is out in the world, all control is lost and how it is received is up to the reader. I mention this because I learned of this book through a review which crossed my feed. It had not been well received and I was curious as to why. I discovered it was on NetGalley and was lucky enough to get it.

Now this book
Sharon Hart-Green
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a thoroughly engrossing tale of the growing attraction between two individuals who come from opposite backgrounds, and their sustained attempt to overcome the disapproval of the ultra-orthodox Jewish society in which they live. Ragen offers the reader a glimpse into this enclosed Jewish world and its (often stifling) mores, but she does so without condemnation. There is certainly some satire in her portrayal of this protected world, but it is neither heavy-handed nor mean-spirited. As a ...more
Lisa Wolf
An Unorthodox Match is set in the ultra-orthodox community of Boro Park, Brooklyn, and is told through the points of view of several characters. Leah (Lola) is Jewish by birth, but was raised by a mother who wants nothing to do with the religion of her own upbringing. Leah only discovers faith and deeper meaning as a college student, and eventually pursues religious studies in her path back to observant, orthodox Judaism. Yaakov, a widower with five children mourning for his late wife, is a priz ...more
Heather Frimmer
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I’ve read from Naomi Ragen and I’m so glad I did. Thank you to Jordan Hanley from St. Martin’s press for putting this wonderful gem in my hands and introducing me to this wonderful author. In the first scene, Leah (formerly Lola) Howard is sitting in a Rabbi’s office. After losing a fiancé to a freak accident and a serious boyfriend to infidelity, she has turned to faith for healing, decided to become Orthodox. The story immediately takes off as we follow Leah through the ...more
Desiree M
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
I won an advanced reader's copy of An Unorthodox Match through a Goodreads competition. I was excited to receive it - but I admit I struggled with how I ultimately felt about this novel. For context, I am Jewish, but I am not Hasidic or Orthodox. I think parts of this book are a strong B rating, but other parts threatened to make me unwilling to finish the book. I think a 3-star represents mostly the positive attributes of this book, but I would be extremely remiss in writing a review that ignor ...more
Lady Alexandrine
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“An Unorthodox Match” by Naomi Ragen is a brilliant novel and undoubtedly one of the best books that I was fortunate to read this year.

What was the most remarkable about this book?

1. The characters! Lea (previously Lola) and Yaakov were wonderful characters. They were kind and good at heart, but they had to deal with tremendous heartache and doubts about their place in the world. Both, Lea and Jacob were written with deep understanding of human nature and emotions. They seemed so true-to-life,
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed An Unorthodox Match, maybe because this is my first read by the author? Whatever it is, I am so glad that I found it on my library's online catalogue for new books. I could go on and on about how much I love my library, but I won't!

I will say how much I was drawn into the life of Leah Howard and how she knew there was more to life than what she was experiencing, and sought it through living as an orthodox Jewish woman. She was a Jew by birth, but thro
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read a review on this book a while back and decided to expand my reading a bit. An Unorthodox Match is a fascinating look at the insular community of Orthodox Jews in NYC. The cover is misleading, IMO.
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

Both Leah and Yaakov have experienced the tragedy of losing a partner, both have turned to G-d to help them cope. Leah has recently moved to Brooklyn's Boro Park to transition to an orthodox life. While she navigates her new community, struggling to find her place, Yaakov struggles to raise five children and continue his Torah studies. When Leah volunteers to watch Yaakov's children during the day, she forms a bond w
Author Naomi Raven has written a modern-day Cinderella but our Prince is a widower with 5 children living in an isolated religious community with strict rules and a penchant for welcoming converts while secretly excluding them from the heart of communal life. And Cinderella has a backstory that is laden with personal tragedy and a mother, rather than a stepmother, who trivializes her heartfelt desires to pursue a life with greater depth and meaning. Raven creates a world that most readers have n ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading about this culture and how one woman worked to be a part of it. After tragic experiences Lola/Leah tries to find solace through ultra orthodox religion. It’s a very closed society so there is a lot of introspection, disappointments, and some success. The customs and unwritten rules are interesting to learn about. Definitely not for me although sometimes I think it would be less stressful to not have to make decisions about every detail in your life. Thank you so much to ...more
Susan Peterson
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
An Unorthodox Match is a poignant, unorthodox love story between a devout Torah scholar and a young woman who is a recent convert. The story is fraught with conflict; prejudice, gossip, acceptance, faith, and living up to the strict tenets of the ultra orthodox branch of Judaism. I felt like I had been dropped into another world, with language and customs that were foreign to me, but which were an integral part of this book. Thank you to Jordan Hanley from St. Martin’s Press for letting me read ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it.

A powerful and moving novel of faith, love, and acceptance, from the internationally bestselling author of The Devil in Jerusalem.

Yaakov is a man of God, a father, a Talmud scholar, and a widower. After failing to save his wife’s life, he is struggling both financially and spiritually.

Lola i
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I do not give five stars easily but “An Unorthodox Match” earns each of those five stars! At its simplest, it is the story of Leah a women recently converting to Orthodox Judaism, and Yaakov, a Talmud Scholar, and recent widow. The book explores the challenges they face in searching for a meaningful relationship while honoring the tenants of their faith. The book takes nothing for granted, however, and there is not simply one right answer on how to live. The grace of this book is that it takes t ...more
Amy Bruestle
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
I won this book through a giveaway in exchange for an honest review...

Ugh. I’m frustrated with this read. It had such a clever title and made you curious as to what was going to happen, and drew you in....just to end up being the most predictable book I’ve ever read! The writing itself was not, it was actually pretty good. My problems were with the story line. It was kind of boring and it also had way too many religious terms that were difficult to understand. The guide in the bac
Sarah 🌺 Books in Their Natural Habitat
I don't generally read books on religion and spirituality so volunteering to read through Netgalley was completely by chance. What really caught my eye and gave me reason to give An Unorthodox Match a shot was the idea of religious cultism, what we may view as one from the outside, and what value others see as they join and live on the inside. I've read a total of maybe two-ish other similarly-based books and just could not get anywhere with them.

It's a good thing I took a stab at An Unorthodox
Thank you to Goodreads and St. Martin's Press for this ARC.

I have read many books by Naomi Ragen and she's one of my favorite Jewish authors and my go to for Jewish fiction. It is always a pleasure to read her books.

Growing up Jewish but not ultra religious like this, I really enjoyed learning a lot about things I didn't know in my own religion. Thankfully there was a glossary of words, especially some Yiddish ones that I didn't grow up with to help me after I finished the book.

Leah is a 34 year
Jul 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
I did not finish this book. Whenever I read something about the Haredi Orthodox, an ultra-Orthodox, insular, Jewish community who, contrary to the Torah by which they claim to live their lives, do not welcome strangers into their midst, I become extremely angry that there is this kind of community within my religion. There have been many factual reports of child sex abuse and abusive husbands in this culture. Women are treated as brood mares. They live in voluntary poverty while the husbands spe ...more
Carol Dass
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-read, arcs
This story has some terrific humor! I loved when Leah was visiting the Matchmaker and the dates she went on were so funny! She met some real characters! Leah had had a tough life so far and felt lost. Her boyfriend had died in a tragic accident and she felt to blame. She had also lost her job. She converted to Judaism, orthodox. Yaakov’s wife died recently and he was struggling with his five children and looking after the house. Leah was looking after his house as a volunteer, but Yaakov had not ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of this author before and didn’t quite know what to expect. I was so pleasantly surprised by this novel of faith, love, and acceptance. While Leah and Yaakov were wonderful characters, to me the minor characters were where the writer’s talent shone. I love how thoughtfully written this was, and I learned so much about Orthodox Jewish faith and culture. At times humorous, compelling throughout, and often encouraging of my own reflection, this was a five star read for me!

Thank y
Warning for sensitive readers: (view spoiler)

I understand that I received a very early advanced reader’s copy of this book (It’s scheduled for publication in September 2019, and I read it in April 2019.), but the first thing I must say about it is that the cover I received has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of the book. There isn’t anything even remotely like that in the book. The couple,
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In An Unorthodox Match readers are introduced to the insular, ultraorthodox Jewish community in Boro Park, Brooklyn. It is here that Leah has come to study and embrace their ways. However, the longer she lives there she learns all is not as she thought it would be. Also living in Boro Park is Jacob, a widower. He is struggling to properly care for his children and home while continuing with his Torah studies. He is failing. Leah offers to help with the children and housekeeping and as a result o ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books-read
Lola, a young woman on her own, is searching for spirituality. Born to a Jewish mother, she knows almost nothing about her religion, as her own mother had fled from her parent's home years ago to leave what she considered to be religious oppression.
Lola, now Leah, has progressed thru several levels of Judaism, finally arriving in Boro Park, Brooklyn.
Hoping to be accepted she finds people who DO accept her, and others who probably never will.
The author focuses on the difficult process of finding
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. seeing things from a different perspective but also was a heart warming love story
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve been Naomi Ragen’s fan for many years. I didn’t expect such an Orthodoxly themed book but I enjoyed it nonetheless,
Bobbie Arnel
I found it difficult to get into this book until close to the end. There were WAY too many Hebrew/yiddish terms in here. As a Jew, I was familiar with a few of these words, but not most. I found it distracting to keep stopping to look up words, most of which had no definition in the dictionary. At the end of the book, I discovered a glossary of those terms—- too late.

Although I was given good insight into the Orthodox culture, and enjoyed the characters, the story was predictable. It is hard to
Bonnye Reed
I received a free electronic copy of this excellent novel from Netgalley, St. Martin's Press and Naomi Ragen. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.

An Unorthodox Match is set in Boro Park, Brooklyn, NY in a modern time frame, peopled by many of the Orthodox Jewish members of that community, giving us an interesting and intimate look into the everyday lives, the heritage and the chosen
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Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist and playwright who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. She has published seven internationally best-selling novels, and is the author of a hit play. Naomi also publishes a regular column that deals with Jewish subjects, especially Israel.

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