Hush

Hush

4.5 27
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 Gittel

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Overview

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

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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802723321
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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