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An Unorthodox Match

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  89 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
Expected publication: September 24th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  130 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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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.

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 ups and downs
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
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
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
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
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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
Carol Dass
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs, netgalley-read
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
Julianne Bailey
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
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First time to read Jewish fiction and I liked it! Leah is trying to become part of an Orthodox Jewish community after experiencing a few challenges in her life. Yaakov is a young widower with 5 children who enlists Leah to care for his kids. Filled with plenty of Jewish customs and traditions, it’s almost like a nonfic book about Jewish Matchmaking and religious conversion. The book is full of Yiddish and Hebrew words which Kindle might not always have a definition for, but it has a glossary at ...more
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,
Victoria B.
It's been a while since I've read any Jewish fiction, and this book was a good reintroduction. I wish the glossary had been included at the beginning, however, because I was not familiar with many terms and spent a lot of my reading time trying to figure out words and phrases by contextual clues.

Although a little slow going at first (I basically trudged through the first 10 or so chapters), the plot finally picked up and I could hardly put the book down. The relationship between Yaakov and Leah
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
First, my thanks to Goodreads Giveaways program, the author, and St. Martin's Press for the ARC of this book I received.
I started off not liking this book. I did not like the author's depiction of feminists as superficial, narrow-minded, and not very bright. She did this by the way she painted the minor character Cheryl Howard, mother of the central character Leah Howard. Cheryl is very rejecting of Leah's plan to move to Boro Park, Brooklyn N.Y., and become a member of an Orthodox Jewish commun
Phyllis Krall
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An Unorthodox Match tells the story of Leah Howard , who embraces the world of Orthodox Judaism when she moves to Boro Park, Brooklyn and changes her life completely. Still recovering from the death of her fiancé, she finds purpose in her life observing the laws of the Talmud and learning more about her faith.
Yaakov Lehman, a widower with five children, is a Talmud scholar struggling to support his family and run a busy household. Leah volunteers to babysit for him and falls in love with his yo
Michelle Kleid Rafael
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have been reading Naomi Ragen novels for twenty years, since my mom recommended Jephte's Daughter to me. She always tells an engaging story, with interesting characters and very human dilemmas to solve. They are set among the orthodox Jewish community. Her newest, An Unorthodox Match, does not disappoint.

The story is about a a young widower, Yaakov, with five children. After a year of struggling emotionally and financially since his young wife's untimely death he realizes that he needs to fin
Lara Lleverino
I received an advance reader copy of this title from St. Matin’s Press that will be released in September the following review is my own opinions after reading this copy.

I have read other Naomi Ragen books and was so excited to receive a copy of her new did not disappoint. I read it through in two days because I couldn’t put it down. It was such a great story of redemption and grace, the triumph of love over legalism.

The day I finished the book I woke up with a headache that just woul
May 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: An Unorthodox Match
Author: Naomi Ragen
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2018
Review Date: July 19, 2019

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb:
“An Unorthodox Match is a powerful and moving novel of faith, love, and acceptance, from author Naomi Ragen.

California girl Lola has her life all set up: business degree, handsome fiancé, fast track career, when suddenly, without warning, everything tragically implodes. Aft
Jul 16, 2019 added it
My personal "star" rating system:

1 star: Could not finish the book
2 star: Had to force myself to finish the book, did not care for the book, and will not be seeking out this author in the future
3 star: Liked the book, but will not necessarily be seeking out this author in the future
4 star: Really liked the book and would read more of this author, but will not be re-reading this particular book again
5 star: Loved it so much that I will re-read this book in the future, and the author is going onto
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I received An Unorthodox Match as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Leah Howard enters the Orthodox Jewish community of Boro Park, Brooklyn after her secular life falls apart. Jewish by birth, tragedy leads her to pursue the religious inclination she has always felt. While seeking to find her place in the new community, she begins volunteering for the family of Yaakov Lehman, a widower with five children. She quickly brings order to the chaotic, sad household and catches Yaakov's eye in the process--
Anita Ojeda
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Leah Howard, known as Lola to her mother and anyone else who knew her before she decided to adopt an orthodox Jewish lifestyle, just wants to fit in. And for Leah, fitting in means finding an orthodox husband. Rabbi Weintraub breaks the news to her gently, his women’s studies program caters to a younger set. At 34, Leah, with her secular background (even though her mother was born into a Jewish household), has little hope of marrying into the orthodox set.

Nevertheless, the rabbi has compassion o
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An Unorthodox Match tells the story of Leah Howard. The author begins the "Lola" story with a few pieces of her growing up. so what I found intriguing was the fact that her father, whom she meets just a few times, is Jewish. Her mother was semi jaded and bitter, the author takes care in addressing a lot of that. Now her mother is with Ravi an man from India that doesn't embrace his beginnings either. They lead a life in California living together and not doing anything to help Lola with her trou ...more
Sally Stieglitz
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I like reading Ragen’s book for the unflinching look at the world of orthodox Jews. Ragen offers honest insight about both sincere faith and judgmental hypocrisy. Her characters and storytelling, while not the most sophisticated, are generally engaging. In this latest book, Ragen examines the journey of a Baal Teshuva, a Jew who chooses orthodox lifestyle without having been raised in that environment.
I was intrigued by the contradictions she illustrated in which the community both encourages
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Not sure if this is a three or four star book for me (maybe a 3.5?) It's a unique and compelling romance that's also doing a lot of cultural heavy lifting. The first element, I perhaps appreciated more than the later. I think I struggled that this book sometimes wanted to have it both ways--to be both an outsider's tale, while selling us on the value of being an insider too.

I can see where this book might not be a hit with wide audiences. There is a lot of terminology specific to the Orthodox J
Kati Berman
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
An Unorthodox Match by Naomi Ragen
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I have read and enjoyed other books by Naomi Ragen and was looking forward to this one. I was not disappointed.
The story is about Lola (now Leah) and Yaakov and much more about religion, traditions, diversity and inclusion.
Leah had a tragic event in her life and several broken relationships, lost job and now finds herself in the orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. She was born Jewish to a
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: firstreads
I won this book as a FirstRead.

Lola was brought up in a secular household by her mother. When her life falls apart, she looks for answers in religion, eventually leading her to the Orthodox Jewish community in Boro Park, Brooklyn. She renames herself Leah as a sign of her new faith and does everything she can to fit in. Yaakov has been struggling to keep himself and his family above water since his wife died. His mother-in-law and oldest daughter, Shaindele, have been trying to help keep the hou
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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.
“If you want to change who you are, change what you want.” 1 likes
“I used to think religious people were kinder, nicer, had better characters, but I found out they're just like everybody else, just people. Some are better, some are worse. There are sincere ones . . . but also the opposite . . .” 1 likes
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