Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hush by Eishes Chayil

This book is like the Go Ask Alice of the Orthodox Jewish world. It's a finalist for the Morris award, so I'm trying to read them before the award announcement on Monday morning at ALA Midwinter in San Diego.

The author Eishes Chayil is a pseudonym because the author didn't want to reveal her name or her sect of Chassidic religion. She made up a sect so her secrets wouldn't be revealed. I was shocked by all the details. Sure, I've seen on television Orthodox Jews in their different clothing, but I had no idea what the religion was like. I'm amazed by how different the children are raised and how sheltered from the secular world children are. I'm not saying it's horrible, just different. I can't believe that they truly don't know what sex is. When Gittel sees her best friend get raped by a brother, she doesn't know what's going on, but she knows it's wrong. When her world refuses to believe that it happened, Gittel tries to suppress her emotions, but they all come out ten years later after she is married at a young age.

This is the kind of book where you know what happened, you know it's gross, and yet you keep reading. Nothing is rated R, yet Gittel's innocence is so clear that you feel for her. The best part is finding out more about her world. $180 for heels? $2,000 for a wig? Believing that the woman should teach so her husband can study the Torah all day? Absolutely fascinating.

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