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Summary

Called “brave and riveting” by Jeannette Walls, Deborah Feldman’s New York Times best-selling memoir of escaping from a strict Hasidic community includes a new afterword by the author as well as the epilogues from the original 2012 editions detailing the circumstances of her life after leaving her husband and forging new beginnings for herself and her young son.

As a member of the strictly religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, Deborah Feldman grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. Yet in spite of her repressive upbringing, Deborah grew into an independent-minded young woman whose stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to imagine an alternative way of life among the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at 19 and realized that, regardless of the obstacles, she would have to forge a path - for herself and her son - to happiness and freedom.

Remarkable and fascinating, this “sensitive and memorable coming-of-age story” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) is one you won’t be able to put down.

©2012 Deborah Feldman (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

What listeners say about Unorthodox

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Exceptional

Loved this amazing story. I watched the series on Netflix first which was really helpful in getting some background on the community. The story is different enough for the book to be a whole new experience. Both were fantastic. Highly recommend.

6 people found this helpful

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Religion of many rules

I was always interested in the rules by which Hasidic community live. This book gives wonderful insight into what is like to be a part of it. The book is full of details and well written and read. This is one of audio books that can be listened to many times and I will listen to it again. I liked the use of Yiddish words and would have liked a dictionary of those words at the end. After listening to this one I am now really interested to find what is behind such a complicated way of life. There must be some ancient wisdom behind or at least explanations for various superstitions. The rules are probably followed in order to save lives thousands of years ago. The fact that Hasidic community still follows their old religion is on one hand admirable, but on the other ... well better to finish this review with unfinished sentence.

1 person found this helpful

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A brave but rather unlikeable author

The writing is overblown and flowery but I get that the author was young and had no experience as a writer at the time. The protagonist is conceited and delighted with herself and her abilities, and has no awareness of that, but I can't help suspecting that that is a product of the horrible life she led, one where women have no agency, are made to feel filthy at every pass and turn on each other like competing animals. Sort of like her fight back against that. The community strikes me as simply awful, but then it's the desperate and broken response to a truly horrific cultural and personal experience, that of the Holocaust. I feel that, as with any widespread oppression, the people were unforgiveably damaged; despite the unpleasant character of the survivor, to put one's head above the parapet and be counted, so to speak, is an act of great bravery...for that I applaud her. I just wish I could like her more. Still, the book is a page-turner - and to be able to do that at 23 or at any age is quite an achievement. I recommend it. And I'm glad so many are leaving this misogynistic community.

1 person found this helpful

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Gripping and enlightening

Worrying insight into the Hasidic community, highlighting the failings of many fundamentalist religions. I am a secular Jew so found the story particularly interesting. Well read.

1 person found this helpful

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A relatable story to all woman

I feel all the woman in the world have something in common, regardless of religion, and that is that all of us have experienced abuse one way or the other, from the cousin in the basement to the stranger in a bus, we all can relate to the feeling of being powerless when facing abuse. This book have moved me to the core. I can easily count it as one of the best books I've ever read.

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:0

not as good as I expected it to be. i finished it in a day or so and the whole process of listening to audio book is so pleasant but the story itself did not impress me so much.

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Evocative and inspiring

Absolutely gripping and well told. A story I needed to hear this year. I came to the book after watching the 4 part series and they work brilliantly together. I feel moved by this and sad it is over. Thats always a sign that a book will stay with me for a long time. I thoroughly recommend.

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Amazing

What an incredibly brave and honest woman. To of gone through such an awful regime that seems alien to a westernised woman. Such courage and strength. I highly recommend this Audible book. An insight to a darker and strict regime

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Inspiering & Empowering Honisty

Extrordinary book! I searched it out after watching and loveing the adaptation of this on Netflix and beeing totally in awe of it. I am greatful for Deborahs brutally brave and empowering honisty! her story raised issues in myself unachnoledged or dismissed and i am deeply greatful for this to be avsilable on Audible

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Insight in another world

Very interesting story, many heart-wrenching and sometimes shocking details, very well read. I will read Deborah's second book to find out what happened next!

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  • Phyllis
  • 24-04-20

Narrator Problem

The childish pitch of the reader voice was distracting, creating a petulant and girlish character that was likely unintended. Coupled with a few pronunciation issues (like inimitable accented incorrectly), the narrator made it difficult to hear the author’s true voice.

That every character from the Satmar Hassidic world was drawn with such disdain was disturbing. Though I would not choose to live in the ultra-orthodox world, not every member of the community is ignorant or cruel or severely limited.

I have no regrets about the time spent with Unorthodox, I have very mixed feelings about the underlying message.

18 people found this helpful

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  • B. Sloan
  • 04-04-20

Unbelievable

This was an amazing story. I just couldn’t believe all of the traditions. I watched the series first then decided I needed to read this book.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Chelsea Lensing
  • 19-03-20

Such an inspiring and fascinating story.

So glad I listened to the book before the Netflix series comes out next week.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel M
  • 08-04-20

Interesting read - oppressive religion sect

Good read. Made me grateful to not be raised like this. Such contradictions, superstition, and misogyny. What cracks me up the most is how important it to not repeat the Holocaust, yet married women must shave their heads like concentration camp prisioners.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth Steele
  • 16-05-20

Fascinating, “raw” and well performed

Consider listening to this work before watching the Netflix series if possible .... the book is the author’s journey. The mini-series is the adaptation.

There really should be no criticism directed at a person’s memories .... they may not be parallel to another’s experience but they are “true” for the writer. It’s important to keep that in mind as you listen. I found this memoir to be very interesting and, as noted in my review title “raw”. Consider that Ms Feldman wrote her manuscript just months after her exit from the only world she had ever known ... a world that she tried to fit into for years. Her risk was great and she had yet to discover if everything would work out for her and her son. She was still very much in the throws of the experience. A vulnerable and very intense place to be.

The epilogue and the afterwards tie things together 10 years after the author wrote the book and also give a glimpse into the filming of the mini-series .... very insightful.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kesha R. Abdul-Mateen
  • 04-04-20

Captivating

I saw the Netflix show first and wanted to get away from the adaptation. Great story. I am glad Ms. Feldman found her own way.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kathy-Jane
  • 04-05-20

A Little Disappointing

I purchased this book right after watching the mini series on Netflix. I wanted to know more about the Hasidic community and thought the book would contain additional information and detail. I was surprised to find some very substantial differences between the book and the mini series on a number of points as well as in the sequence of events. There are things in the series that were not in the book. I accept this when works of fiction become movies but in real life stories?

The book itself is simply written and simply told. The voice is young if not somewhat juvenile. it is not a riveting drama or expose and without having seen the mini series I would have been very disappointed. Having said that, I always wanted to know about those people I sometimes see in airports with strange clothes and the men with ringlets in their hair. I was amazed that a group could live such isolated and narrow lives in today's world, with their devotion to living by 18th century traditions. Wow.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Rosana Ghussin
  • 06-04-20

Couldn’t put it down!

I saw Unorthodox the mini series first. I watched in one sitting. And was so curious about this foreign world. I too live in NY and I have seen Hasidic Jews without understanding their ways. However, always fascinated by what I heard of them but not believing. Unorthodox the book was no different. I could not stop “reading” in my case listening to the words. I highly recommended. And to Deborah and his son I wish all the best.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer A Howard
  • 11-06-20

The Netflix movie was better.

i was excited for the bbn book but the Netflix movie was better. The book was interesting but a bit boring.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-10-20

great story

I am hart felt of your book, a story of how God still love us no matter what. as long as we try to live in his light. thank you.

1 person found this helpful