The World Outside

The World Outside

by Eva Wiseman
     
 

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An informative and powerful novel, The World Outside explores the life of a teenage girl in a fundamentalist Hasidic community who dreams of a different future.
     Seventeen-year-old Chanie Altman lives the protected life of a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, in 1991. Religion is the most

Overview

An informative and powerful novel, The World Outside explores the life of a teenage girl in a fundamentalist Hasidic community who dreams of a different future.
     Seventeen-year-old Chanie Altman lives the protected life of a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, in 1991. Religion is the most important aspect of her life, and, like other Lubavitcher girls, she is expected to attend a seminary and to marry as soon as she graduates from high school. But Chanie has a beautiful voice and dreams of becoming an opera singer - a profession forbidden to a Hasidic girl. When she meets David, a non-Hasidic Jewish boy, he opens the portals to the world outside her fundamentalist community. The Crown Heights riots break out, and the Lubavitchers are put under siege by their African-American neighbors. A tragedy occurs. Will Chanie stay in the fundamentalist community she has always known in a life that has been prescribed for her, or will she leave it behind to follow her dreams?

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
06/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—What does it mean to become an adult? For Chanie, a Hasidic Jew living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in the early 1990s, it means marriage and a full commitment to her religion and culture. Chanie has always been curious as to why she can and cannot do certain things, curiosity that is not encouraged by her parents, especially her mother. Her interest in the world outside is enhanced when she meets David. Knowing of Chanie's immense musical talent, he encourages her to apply to Juliard—where she gets accepted— and to focus on herself instead of everyone else. Chanie's choice for her future becomes overshadowed by her terminally ill brother's death and the infamous 1991 Crown Heights riot, in which she witnesses the horrific attacks against Jewish homes, property, and people. Wiseman is known for choosing unique time periods in Jewish history for her books. She authentically portrays a young woman torn between two worlds. Readers of all backgrounds will be able to empathize with Chanie, and while some readers may disagree with her choices, the ending is believable. Some of the dialogue seems contrived at times, and the explanations about Hasidic culture and rituals could have been woven into the story more seamlessly. Recommended for libraries looking to enhance their collections about cultural groups and self-identity.—Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Stacey Hayman
Chanie is devoted to her family and to her faith, but she also loves to sing. Knowing the Rebbe would not approve her singing in front of men outside her family keeps Chanie from developing her gift until a chance encounter at the local mall. While passing out Shabbos candles and religious pamphlets, she meets David. He wants her to consider all her options, even encouraging her to apply to Juilliard, but how can Chanie turn her back on her beloved Baba, her parents, her siblings, and her religion? Centuries-old, restrictive religious traditions contrast sharply with more permissive views of the modern world, creating a dynamic background for a young girl’s struggle to discover what makes her happy while honoring the values she was raised to respect. Unfortunately, David’s instantaneous connection and need to propel Chanie into the secular world is never explained; Baba’s steady presence is undermined by the gross-out food hoarding scene; Mama’s reasons behind freezing out her daughter are revealed too late to sense a sincere change in their relationship; and only superficial references to true events in the Crown Heights Riot of 1991 are just a few of the disconnected, confusing ideas floating through this novel. Chanie’s library experience is full of inaccurate stereotypes and left this reader wondering what liberties were taken in the author’s portrayal of the closed Lubavitch community. The ending should create interesting debates between choosing personal happiness and fulfilling family expectations. Reviewer: Stacey Hayman; Ages 12 to 18.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887769825
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
04/08/2014
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Born in Hungary, EVA WISEMAN came to Canada with her family when she was a girl. Her first young adult novel, A Place Not Home, was a finalist for numerous literary awards across North America and was selected for the New York Public Library's annual Best Books for the Teen Age list. Her second novel, My Canary Yellow Star, was also shortlisted for several awards. Her novel No One Must Know was equally critically acclaimed and won the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award. Her novel Kanada was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award and was the winner of the prestigious Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction. Her novel Puppet won the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award as well as being shortlisted for the Book of the Year for Children Award. Her most recent novel, The Last Song, was published to much critical acclaim.

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