4.6 28
by Eishes Chayil, Judy Brown

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Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules people live by are determined by an ancient script written thousands of years ago—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-yearold Gittel learns that her best friend has suffered abuse at the hands of a family member, the adults in her community try to persuade


Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules people live by are determined by an ancient script written thousands of years ago—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-yearold Gittel learns that her best friend has suffered abuse at the hands of a family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe. This nuanced exploration of a complex world—one of humor, understanding, and horror—illuminates the conflict between yesterday's traditions and today's reality.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“*[A] painful, respectful story of redemption.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“*An engaging coming-of-age story.” —BCCB, starred review

“[Hush] will strike a deep emotional chord.” —VOYA

“I couldn’t put Hush down. Gripping, fascinating and poignant, the book is bravely written. . . .An extremely well-crafted story that keeps you turning pages.” —

“An extremely well-crafted story that keeps you turning pages.” —

“*This painful, respectful story of redemption is well-worth delving into.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

VOYA - Jennifer McConnel
Gittel and Devory have been best friends forever; born on the same day in the same hospital, the girls are more like sisters than neighbors. Living in a predominantly Chassidic neighborhood in New York, the girls have been sheltered from all the things their community deems unseemly. But Gittel's innocence is shattered one night when she witnesses Devory being abused. Gittel knows she has seen something terrible, but her culture does not have the words to explain what she has seen, so she is told to keep silent. Her knowledge continues to haunt her, and Gittel struggles to come to terms with Devory's situation. After Devory's death when the girls are ten years old, the community seems to forget, but Gittel cannot move on. Thoughts of Devory continue to haunt her, and Gittel's silence begins to feel like guilt. This first-person narrative alternates the voices of ten-year-old and seventeen-year-old Gittel. The included details of the Chassidic community paint a rich cultural picture but may be confusing to readers who do not have any prior knowledge of Judaism. Gittel's struggle is sometimes hard to sympathize with because her innocence can come across as foolishness to a modern adolescent reader—there is just so much that Gittel does not know that it is almost unbelievable. For the reader who is willing to stick with this complex novel, it will strike a deep emotional chord, but some readers may not make it through the first half of the book. Reviewer: Jennifer McConnel
Children's Literature - Jennifer Waldrop
Hush is a timely book these days, when it seems as if hardly a day goes by without the news media reporting another child molestation by a religious leader. The main character, Gittel, is a sixteen-year-old girl who is harboring a devastating secret. Six years ago, when she was ten, she witnessed her best friend Devory being sexually abused. In their Chassidic Jewish community, reporting what she had seen would only lead to family shame and dishonor. Gittel's enforced silence is difficult for her to bear, and becomes even more so as she reaches the age at which she should be married off and become a mother. This taut tale alternates between ten-year-old Gittel and present day Gittel, never losing its momentum. It is not always a pleasant or easy read, but it is a powerful, gripping young adult novel that demonstrates that sexual abuse can happen anywhere, even in an insular, devoutly religious community. Reviewer: Jennifer Waldrop
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—After six long years, Gittel is still haunted by her friend's suicide. Now 17, she knows what happened to Devory and why, but their ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has refused to accept the truth. The incest that led to Devory's death is not acknowledged, because "that doesn't happen in our community." This thoughtful, disturbing, and insightful novel provides an insider's view of an insular society that denies the reality of rape and oppression within its ranks. Gittel is poised to be married to a good man, the best fate she can obtain. The present action of the story is the unfolding of Gittel's arranged marriage, from negotiations between the families and her only meeting with her intended groom, to the wedding ceremony, young married life and the birth of her first child. But the plot revolves around her internal struggles to reconcile her faith and culture with the awful secrets that she knows and has witnessed. Her own purity—and therefore desirability—is linked to her silence. Speaking out carries too high a cost in a society in which the appearance of holiness and probity is everything. Family and social life within today's Chassidic community are portrayed with affection for the warmth and the enduring values but with a clear eye for the vulnerability of the young and the hurt. When Gittel finally does try to tell her friend's story, she comes up against the powerful men of the community. It is fitting that it is through the written word that both Gittel and the author are able to speak for the Devorys of the world.—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Gittel is preparing for marriage, and she hopes the shadchen, the matchmaker, picks a good husband. It's 2009 in this Hasidic Brooklyn neighborhood, where Yiddish is a first language and women work so men can study Torah all day. But if Gittel lives in accordance with God's law, why can't she forget what happened when she was ten years old? Interleaved chapters of Gittel at ten and 17 reveal two heartbreaking stories: the sexual abuse and subsequent suicide of ten-year-old Gittel's best friend, and Gittel's wholly believable breakdown seven years later. The community had lied to the police about the abuse, believing that negative attention is a Chillul Hashem, a transgression of God's name. The shameful cover-up is only one of the aspects of Gittel's community condemned, but just as many are portrayed lovingly: the joy in God, in music, in family. This painful, respectful story of redemption is well worth delving into Yiddish-laden prose. No Chillul Hashem here, but gemilut hasadim and tikun olam: serving the dead in lovingkindness, repairing the world. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

EISHES CHAYIL is a pseudonym meaning woman of valor, chosen by JUDY BROWN when Hush was first published because of feared backlash from her community. Since publication, Judy's identity has been revealed, she has left the Chassidic community, and she has been profiled in The New York Times Magazine. Judy was raised in a world of Chassidic schools, synagogues, and summer camps and is a direct descendant of the major founders of and leaders in the Chassidic world. She holds a master's degree in creative writing and has worked as a journalist for several international Orthodox newspapers. She lives in New York City.

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Hush 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
IshChayal More than 1 year ago
On the surface, Hush is a now all too familiar tale - a young girl witnesses/experiences sexual abuse, lacks the context and ability to deal with it as a child and then has to grapple with the impact it has on her as an adult. But there is much more here than the surface. For one, there is the voice. In the hands of Aishes Chayil, Gittel emerges as one of the most unique voices in children's fiction in quite some time. She is both heartbreakingly naive and devastatingly aware, her sheltered innocence slowly giving away to something adult and knowing, yet never losing her pureness of tone. In the hands of a lesser author this would be an accomplishment - what makes Aishes Chayil's feat all the more masterful is the dual time periods of the book. Someone, she bridges the gap between the adult Gittel and the child Gittel - we never loses sight of who Gittel is and her unique, often whimsical point of view, and yet, with subtle strokes and shadings, the demarcation between child and adult is beautifully depicted. Finally, there is the tenderness with which Eishes Chayil manages to infuse her depiction of the Chassidic community. In a book like this, it would be all too easy to turn the community into a black and white cartoon of close minded cruelty. But Eishes Chayil does something truer here - she shows the community as it is, its strength, it's beauty and yes, its tragic flaws. She doesn't preach, she doesn't condemn she simply shows. And in showing she points the hard finger of truth where it needs to be pointed. Similarly, her characterizations are nuanced and shaded. Again, in a book like this, it would be easy to paint the men as patriarchal and oppressive and the women as docile and cowed. Eishes Chayil does something truer, particularly in her depiction of Gittel's father and later her husband. This story and its exquisite craftsmanship linger in my thoughts days after I've finished it, and I'm sure it will reward anyone fortunate enough to encounter it with the same.
AndyAC More than 1 year ago
Though a book about the Hassidic Community, it could be written about any group of people. Sadly, it is what we do. We keep quiet about such horrible abuses of our children, especially if by another family member. Choosing to believe instead, that the child is lying. A child who can't possibly have the words yet, or understand what is happening. Priests are sent to another parish, teachers to another school and Israel. We Jews are particularly skittish about letting the world at large know that we too are human and have all the same human failties as the rest of the world. I believe we would get more respect by letting the world at large know that no one will get away with hurting our one. This book is about the bravery and suffering of two little girls. It's a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is well written and seems to convey an honest and realistic view of the strengths and weakneses of the chassidic community.
sharon1JT More than 1 year ago
This very excellent book is about a child who was being abused. The signs were all there, but nobody noticed, or ignored. It’s also about the reluctant courage of another child. This book will make you laugh, be angry, and so very sad that this horror could and does happen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think i would like to read this book. It sounds interesting and i like books like this, plus my name is chayil ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting book and a quick page turner. It explains a lot about the life and role of a Chassidic woman. It is also very disturbing and depressing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A friend requested I read this book so that I could discuss it with her. This was one of the best books I have read this year. The writing style and subject matter captured my interest from page one. Eishes Chayil captures the innocence, the guilt, the childish thoughts of one too young to have experienced such ugliness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and informative about the secrets and motivations of a community that most of us who are not part of the orthodox society find puzzling and in some instances, inconceivable. It was a surprise to learn the real purpose of the book as explained in the author's notes based on her own experience. Would definitely recommend it. A good book for discussion.
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Liz1978 More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books that I have read. Primarly because it answered the questions that I had in regards to their customs. I finally understand why they act the way they do. I was schooled and finally understand their phylosophy although I may not agreed. This is defenitely a must read...
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Fuchscia More than 1 year ago
Being a fan of Chaim Potak from the beginning, and Naomi Ragen since her first book, I found "Hush" to be a page turner from page one! The story is one only too familiar, but the writing style and character development is fantastic, leaving the reader with a complete understanding and emotional attachment to each member of the story. I commend the author, not only is this fantastic work, but filled with honor and courage for a young woman in this community to stand up and tell her story!
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