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Winner of So You Think You Can Write? Orca Book ...
Winner of So You Think You Can Write? Orca Book Publishers Novel contest.
Is there any room in Orthodox Judaism for a distinctly unorthodox Jewish teenager? Ellie Gold has always embraced her faith-at least until she meets Lindsay. Faced with denying her sexuality or abandoning her community, Ellie looks to her mother, sister and grandmother to guide her, but in the end, her decisions are all her own.
Ellisheva "Ellie" Gold is an Orthodox Jewish teen growing up in Toronto. When she falls for daring, sexy, non-Jewish Lindsay, she begins a struggle with her own homosexuality, worrying that she will be seen as an abomination by her family and community. First denying her urges and then giving in to them, she ultimately realizes that Lindsay is not a good match for her, but that a nice Jewish girl would be just right. Ellie learns that both love and God are like gravity, forces that she can believe in without seeing them. Much of the story concerns her lustful feelings toward Lindsay, and there are some sexual scenes. Her decision to dump Lindsay but embrace her lesbian identity is abrupt after all the angst of the earlier chapters. It makes for a happy ending, but one that is not completely believable. Ellie's struggle with Judaism is complicated by her sister Neshama's disgust with patriarchal traditions and by her nonobservant grandmother's puzzlement with her granddaughter's lifestyle. With no sympathetic representative, traditional Judaism itself comes off as something of a villain, redeemed only when Ellie begins to adapt it to her own needs. A bit slow in plot, a bit conflicted in its portrayal of Judaism, and a bit titillating in its descriptions of Ellie's growing sexual awareness, this novel is a mixed bag. It may offend some readers and be embraced by others, and would certainly make for an interesting discussion.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
A religious girl struggles to accept a sexuality that she's taught is sinful. Ellie's parents are "reborn-Orthodox" Jews. The family prays many times per day, keeps strictly kosher and barely associates with non-Jews. At a lakeside cottage with her unreligious grandmother one summer, Ellie falls hard for a girl. They kiss, but Lindsay is tauntingly unfriendly and leaves without saying goodbye. Back in Toronto, Ellie yearns for Lindsay and wrestles in secrecy with the notion of sin. Attempting to change, she yanks hair from her scalp and bites her cheek bloody. In counterpoint, Ima (her mother) is banished for singing too loudly in shul; she's particularly fragile, but her actions mortify the family even as the harsh punishment unsettles them. Ellie slowly realizes that for her, Judaism is the same as her beloved geology and oceanography: "When I pray, the words reverberate...They ground me, like bull kelp...rooted to the ocean floor, yet still moving, undulating in the waves." At the end, Judaism and gayness meld, with a touch of sweetness. Heartfelt—a must for Jewish and GLBT collections. (glossary) (Fiction. YA)
Posted January 31, 2009
This book by Canadian first-time author Leanne Lieberman centers on the coming-of-age of Ellie Gold. <BR/><BR/>The story begins during the summer vacation: Ellie goes to her grandmother's cottage in the midst of immaculate natural beauty, a place that she has looked forward to returning to since her first visit. This trip ends unexpectedly, as Ellie ends up falling in love with a girl her age, realizing her homosexuality. <BR/><BR/>However, Ellie has been brought up with strict religious values and traditions, which do not accept homosexuality, and she is forced to choose between shunning her community or denying her true sexuality. <BR/><BR/>Ultimately, through the multiple conflicts illustrated between tradition and modernity, Lieberman establishes that there is a place for all types of people, including Ellie, in society and religion. <BR/><BR/>I definitely enjoyed this story. Lieberman sucessfully develops her characters, and does not shy away from the lust commonly experienced by teenagers. And, coupled with the homosexual storyline, this story provides for a very interesting read, and is friendly to those who are not familiar with Judaism, specifically Orthodoxy. <BR/><BR/>GRAVITY is a good read for any, and despite my initial questions of how Lieberman would create such a challenging story, my concerns were for naught, as the story is an excellent work.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 24, 2011
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