Customer Reviews for

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

35 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

A must-read!

"Unorthodox" is an authentic, gripping narrative of the author's experiences growing up in an oppressive religious Hasidic community, and of how she courageously walked away from that community to provide a better life for herself and her child. Having lived many years ...
"Unorthodox" is an authentic, gripping narrative of the author's experiences growing up in an oppressive religious Hasidic community, and of how she courageously walked away from that community to provide a better life for herself and her child. Having lived many years in that community myself, I can attest to the veracity of the author's description of the Hasidic lifestyle, as well as relate to the challenges she faced in leaving, and the exhilaration of being able to freely explore the world outside. The story, while poignant, also has its humorous moments. It is certainly as entertaining to read as it is informative, and for those looking for a good book to read it will not disappoint.

posted by BklynBookBuff on October 17, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

25 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

Well-written

I noticed there are many negative reviews, but the readers never indicate that they've actually read the book. Since I have read the book, I will say it's carefully written. While Deborah details the daily life of the Satmars, she's also very conscious not to add too mu...
I noticed there are many negative reviews, but the readers never indicate that they've actually read the book. Since I have read the book, I will say it's carefully written. While Deborah details the daily life of the Satmars, she's also very conscious not to add too much judgment. Her writing seems very honest. For example, she conveys an awareness of the material things she covets after her engagement and marriage.

One thing the Satmars who are angry with Deborah and also Deborah herself doesn't seem to notice. The reason she noticed what was missing in her life was because she dipped her toes into our pool. In essence, she ate from the tree of knowledge, and once she did, she was unable to feel satisfied with the life she had. Being treated as an outcast by her own family, what did she really have to lose? I came across a few sites where people are defaming her, and I'm sure the Satmars are unhappy mostly because they are private and exclusive and she's basically torn the veil off their secret society, but so it goes. This is her story, and if it doesn't align with other Satmars, so be it. That doesn't mean it isn't true.

posted by AlexaF on February 21, 2012

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    A must-read!

    "Unorthodox" is an authentic, gripping narrative of the author's experiences growing up in an oppressive religious Hasidic community, and of how she courageously walked away from that community to provide a better life for herself and her child. Having lived many years in that community myself, I can attest to the veracity of the author's description of the Hasidic lifestyle, as well as relate to the challenges she faced in leaving, and the exhilaration of being able to freely explore the world outside. The story, while poignant, also has its humorous moments. It is certainly as entertaining to read as it is informative, and for those looking for a good book to read it will not disappoint.

    35 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 21, 2012

    Well-written

    I noticed there are many negative reviews, but the readers never indicate that they've actually read the book. Since I have read the book, I will say it's carefully written. While Deborah details the daily life of the Satmars, she's also very conscious not to add too much judgment. Her writing seems very honest. For example, she conveys an awareness of the material things she covets after her engagement and marriage.

    One thing the Satmars who are angry with Deborah and also Deborah herself doesn't seem to notice. The reason she noticed what was missing in her life was because she dipped her toes into our pool. In essence, she ate from the tree of knowledge, and once she did, she was unable to feel satisfied with the life she had. Being treated as an outcast by her own family, what did she really have to lose? I came across a few sites where people are defaming her, and I'm sure the Satmars are unhappy mostly because they are private and exclusive and she's basically torn the veil off their secret society, but so it goes. This is her story, and if it doesn't align with other Satmars, so be it. That doesn't mean it isn't true.

    25 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 28, 2012

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

    I read the many reviews of this book and I found only about half to be an actual review of the book or the writing, the other half were personal attacks on the author and that does nothing for the satmar cause, nor is it a considered a review. Im sure this book is going to anger some people because it opens the veil of hasidic secrecy. But this is a place to review the writing and the storyline. People shouting LIES! LIES! is annoying and desperate. This is HER memoir, she has every right to tell it how she saw it and lived it. So therefore it is not a lie. You are not coming across with a worthwhile point. And I seriously crack up on the people that say they personally know very religious Hasids and they arent like "that". For one, Hasids dont associate with gentiles,never have, especially Satmar's. And if by chance they "have" too, I can guarantee they are not going to be offering (you) up any details of private hasidic life. Please review the book only if you have actually read it, and are not just here to B*tch about the author personally. The book in itself was a fabulous read, well written. I want to know more of this story. I would read another book by this author. The only part I feel was lacking was that I wish she would have detailed more in the end about how the families reacted and where everyone is now. Maybe that can be in the follow up? The book is short for a memoir ( slightly less than 300 pages) but was filled with complexity, worthwhile pages and the extra "fluff" sometimes used to fill pages was left out. That part I appreciated. After page 200 I found I could not put the book down and stayed up well into the wee hours to finish the book. Highly recommend.

    21 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Bravo Deborah!

    As a nurse who works with this community I found this book reinforced what I already knew about the Satmar Hasidics. It helped me to understand them a little better and to not take personally their behavior towards me. I give Deborah Feldman so much credit for making a new life for herself and her son and hope that she succeeds in all she does! I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about an insular and cultish community living their highly restricted lives right in the middle of modern and progressive Brooklyn!

    17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2011

    How can there already be a review of a book that has yet to be released?

    Someone posted a review on Oct. 17, 2011 for a book due for release on Feb. 14, 2012. Does someone own a Time Machine?

    15 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2012

    I couldn't put it down!

    I worked with people from this community for years and I believe every word she's written. I know that there is a big review war about this book on Amazon, but know, Deborah Feldman is a gifted writer and an extra ordinrily brave woman!!! Kudos on the success of this powerful and inspirational book!

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012

    Anontmous

    It is one persons view people. Get a grip. I liked it.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2012

    My thoughts on this book

    I found this book very intresting. I did enjoy reading every word. I enjoyed learning about a part of society I did not know anything about. I enjoyed her view point. I don't know very much about this community or this religion so I have to believe the Author. Plus, this is her story and how she saw her life not how people that lived around her saw it. The writing felt somewhat rushed at times. The big stories were there but at some points she will bring something up and then it is like she has a total change of thought and we never hear what happen. I really wish she would have told us more. More, about how her family reacted to her leaving. How her husband's family reacted. What is Eli doing now. Her father. I wanted this book to be more then just about her insentives to leave and more about what happen when she did...there did not seem to be "Scandale" in her leaving. I think is is a very good book that needed a little less editing and a few more details.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    A waste of money

    Interestingly I live in Williamsburg and know alot about the community despite not being a Hasid, and what she writes in her book doesn't match up with what I know about them. I think she's like the "disgruntled employee", trying to get back at the community that she left. A bunch of rubbish and distorted views in the book. It's like reading someone's fictional novel.

    6 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    Fascinating Book

    I really enjoyed this book. Deborah is a brilliant, and I admire her ability to overcome such odds to bring her to where she is today. Learning about this culture was eye opening and i must admit it made me really angry. Once again men made up these so called ways of God, to keep complete control over women. This is a great book, and I hope to read more books of hers in the future.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

    fascinating, wild with imaginations.

    Although i'm an ex-hassid, i'm still outraged how this author decides to go forth writing a book in a way that's tragically twisted, i can understand her madness and frustrations being raised by ailing grandparents, etc. it's still NO excuse to exaggerate or excessive lying ! i'm half way thru the book and feel it fair enough to say it's over 75% fabricated !! if you don't believe me you need to go no further than Googling: "Unorthodox' Author's Claim Of Murder Cover-up Rebutted", plus many more fabrications in the upcoming news. I think instead of returning the book, i'll keep it for future references, articles for evidences.For anyone who decided to buy the book or has the book, just enjoy it as a fascinating, wild with imaginations read ! I give more than 1 star bec i applaud her for the courage to get up, pack up and move out of the old community. Great bravery for standing up for herself. I just feel sad that she thought lying was the way to go ( and make more quick money ). if she comes out with her next book, 100% pure true then i'll give rating 4 or 5 stars...

    5 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    Completely Not accurate

    Having read the book and knowing some Satmars personally , I can tell that this is not acurate at all. Completely distorted, and I am short of saying that some customs in the Hasidic works are grossly exaggerated. I have first hand knowledge of the most religious hasids, (not being jewish myself) WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY.

    5 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2012

    A book full of lies

    I am not sure how such a prestigious publisher like Simon & Schuster would publish such a book based one persons word with no factual backing defaming a whole religious community as a matter of revenge for her admittedly unhappy life, because of her family troubles.

    5 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2012

    I read this book because I thought I would be able to relate to

    I read this book because I thought I would be able to relate to Ms. Feldman. I, too, left an insular community (in my case Old Order Amish) in which preserving the collective or community was valued over an individual's freedom. I know what it's like to be required to follow the rules blindly, even when these rules contradict one another and any self-respecting person can't help but question them. I know what it feels like to have my education limited in an intentional attempt to keep me ignorant of the choices I had for charting my own life path.

    I, too, gravitated towards a college education and eventually graduated from Smith College, but I had to leave my community to be able to do so. Feldman was very resourceful in utilizing the freedoms she did have in moving toward her goal of self-actualization.

    I did learn about the Satmar community from reading this book, but I was very bored with the first half (the childhood portion) of "Unorthodox." I understand that her childhood was very boring, but the reader should not be bored in reading about it. Perhaps much of this could have been omitted from her story.

    The other thing that strikes me about Feldman's childhood is that a boring and secure childhood is preferable to one filled with abuse, neglect, or uncertainty. Though her parents did not provide for her, her grandparents did. From Feldman's account it seems they did a fairly decent job of providing for her, which I'm not sure she realizes or appreciates. Perhaps these are the kinds of things she will appreciate later in life.

    So, given all the parallels between Feldman's life and my own, I was prepared to really enjoy this book. But I really didn't. Even though the book does get less boring when Feldman's struggles begin after her arranged marriage when she is still a teenager, she failed to make me care about her. Yes, of course I have empathy for her in a general way because she is a fellow human, but she didn't make me care about her in a specific way, because I don't feel I got to know her all that well, even after reading a whole book about her. I cared more about her education at Sarah Lawrence College than I did whether people thought she was glamorous or not. She herself seemed distracted from the learning when she wrote: "When the class starts, I can't hear anything the professor is saying because I keep looking down at my legs and smoothing the denim with my fingers." WHO CARES what she was wearing... I want to know what she was LEARNING. I also didn't want to see her take up the nasty habit of smoking by hearing how she pretended she'd been smoking all along, rather than show she was a novice at it. The last photo in the book may as well be a cigarette commercial. Doesn't she realize that smoking is no longer glamorous -- that in fact it has become passe?

    The emphasis on clothing and other superficial details seemed to be the "screen" she held between me as the reader and the substance of her story.

    Towards the end of the story, her husband, Eli, goes away for a week. Feldman tells herself that if she cannot make it on her own for a week, then she can't make it on her own permanently, but then she doesn't write about the outcome of that week... I would have rejoiced with her if at the end of the week she discovered that she can indeed make it on her own and use that feeling of accomplishment as an inspiration to make the final break. I didn't get that chance.

    Overall, I was disappointed with this book... I expected much more. Some people learn what's important in life as they mature. Other people live on a superficial level all their lives. Only time will tell which will be true of Feldman.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    Simply Excellent

    Anytime someone breaks away from a religion there seems to be people who are still within that religion who will throw stones at the person who broke away. This was a memoir on the auhor's experience within the Hisidic religion. I found her story moving, informative, engrossing & memorable. Highly recommended.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    Very compelling book.

    I just finished reading this book and thought it was very interesting and informative. It was very fascinating to step inside this Hasidic neighborhood and read about the different traditions and customs of this culture. I know the author has taken some flack for writing this but I honestly didn't come away from it with anything more than it being her experiences and her own thoughts and feelings. She articulates her view very well.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    Great information on the community, where I grew up as child

    Growing up as a hispanic on the lower east side, Manhattan, New York City, I always wonder about the Jewish community. This book was so interesting didnt want it to end.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    Superb

    I found your book about your life so real, human and interesting. Good luck with everything and enjoy life to the fullest.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

    ┬┐Unorthodox┬┐ Belongs in the Fiction Section

    “Unorthodox” Belongs in the Fiction Section

    4 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    Good luck putting this book down.

    I found this book to be amazing. Her story was moving, and a heartfelt perspective of a rather private world. Regardless of the negative comments left by others who have read this book, this was her story, and it's her life. This is her American dream, and all the hateful comments in the world can't take that away from her.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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