By Deborah Feldman
Simon & Schuster, 2012, 254 pp.
With this book review, The Whole Megillah happily ventures into adult literary. Unorthodox is an engrossing read by writer Deborah Feldman, a former member of the Satmar sect in Brooklyn, who takes us on her journey from a young girl living with her grandparents to a wife and mother and then to a Sarah Lawrence student — a sort of delayed coming-of-age story.
The good stuff
- Pure bravado — It undoubtedly took tremendous courage to write this memoir.
- Lyricism — Sentences read like poetry, highly polished.
- Evocative details — Writing teachers often say, “Dig deep.” That is exactly what Feldman has done.
- Literary references — Citing the impact of secular books Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables on her psyche and worldview, brava!
- Character transformation — Memoir works when there is transformation of the main character. While we know that’s going to happen in some way, Feldman’s metamorphosis is slow, painful, dramatic — and memorable.
The not-so-good stuff
- Foreshadowing — Not necessary. We know from the book’s subtitle Feldman’s going to make a break.
- Unanswered questions — I wanted to know what the kabbalist meant by “There is a secret surrounding your birth. The blood ties are not blood.” (p. 196) I also wanted to know how it was possible to have custody of Yitzi when the author stated it would not be possible with a divorce.
5.0 out of 5.0