Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mystics, Mavericks and Merrymakers

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (August 6, 2004)
  • ISBN-10: 0814751970
  • Author: Stephanie Wellen Levine
  • Cover art: I like the simplicity.
  • Obtained: Bought
  • Overall rating: **** out of 5 stars

Mystics, Mavericks and Merrymakers by Stephanie Wellen Levine
Reviewed by Moirae the fates book reviews

  • From the ardently religious young woman who longs for the life of a male scholar to the young rebel who visits a strip club, smokes pot, and agonizes over her loss of faith to the proud Lubavitcher with a desire for a high-powered career, Stephanie Wellen Levine provides a rare glimpse into the inner worlds and daily lives of these Hasidic girls.
    Lubavitcher Hasidim are famous for their efforts to inspire secular Jews to become more observant and for their messianic fervor. Strict followers of Orthodox Judaism, they maintain sharp gender-role distinctions.
    Levine spent a year living in the Lubavitch community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, participating in the rhythms of Hasidic girlhood. Drawing on many intimate hours among Hasidim and over 30 in-depth interviews, Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers offers rich portraits of individual Hasidic young women and how they deal with the conflicts between the regimented society in which they live and the pull of mainstream American life.
    This superbly crafted book offers intimate stories from Hasidic teenagers' lives, providing an intriguing twist to a universal theme: the struggle to grow up and define who we are within the context of culture, family, and life-driving beliefs. (Synopsis provided by Amazon)

    I read this one as I have a friend who is Chabad Lubavitch and she is from Crown Heights. I wanted to learn more about her community as Chabad is very different from Messianic. 

    While reading this book I learned that the extreame  kindness is an attribute for the whole group. I have met a few others who are Chabad and every single one of them has been such a genuine and kind person. This book shows how that is a staple in that community. 

    Each of the ladies in that were interviewed in this book were very different. There was one girl who questioned her community and her religion, I found her story to be the most interesting in its own way, I wanted to know why she had questions why no one would answer the questions. I didn't get all the answers to her story that I wanted sadly. 

    I did enjoy how Levine describes how she went back to talk to one of the girls to get her to sign a release so that her story could be used. I was interested to see how the more "free" girls of the book had changed so much.

    Of course all of the girls are not called by their actual names in the book to protect their identities. 
    If you are interested in the Chabad community and want to know more I would encourage you to read this book.

    So say we all!

Friday, February 13, 2015

No Falling Behind this week

Hey y'all I know I didn't post a review or a FBOF this week. I had midterms this week and I am getting ready for Shabbos which starts in 2 minutes. Just wanted to let y'all know what was going on. I will have a review up on Monday. Have a great Saturday! If you observe Shabbos I wish you a Shabbat Shalom!

So say we all!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Falling Behind on Friday 9

Falling Behind on Friday is a weekly meme hosted by me. In this one, we all pick a book that has been on on TBR pile for a long time. (At least one month.) That we just haven't gotten to yet. Or a book we have been meaning to buy and haven't picked up. I know most of us have massive TBR piles and this is a great way to single out one to share with others.
To be clear the book must already be published. I am sure we all find many that we either didn't know about or that we have forgotten about.
So, to participate, simply grab the "Falling behind on Friday" graphic above, post  the cover art to the book you have fallen behind on and leave a comment linking me to your post so I can stop by and see it. Also, be sure to add the instructions in your post so others can play too!

This week I am falling behind on

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.

What are you falling behind on?

So say we all!

Monday, February 2, 2015


  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • Author: Deborah Feldman
  • Cover Art: Love it
  • Obtained: Bought
  • Overall rating:**** out of 5 stars

Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
Reviewed by Moirae the fates book reviews

The child of a mentally disabled father and a mother who abandoned the community while her daughter was still a toddler, Deborah was raised by her strictly religious grandparents, Bubby and Zeidy. Along with a rotating cast of aunts and uncles, they enforced customs with a relentless emphasis on rules that governed everything from what Deborah could wear and to whom she could speak, to what she was allowed to read. As she grew from an inquisitive little girl to an independent-minded young woman, stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to imagine an alternative way of life. She had no idea how to seize this dream that seemed to beckon to her from the skyscrapers of Manhattan, but she was determined to find a way. The tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until, at the age of seventeen, she found herself trapped in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she had met for only thirty minutes before they became engaged. As a result, she experienced debilitating anxiety that was exacerbated by the public shame of having failed to immediately consummate her marriage and thus serve her husband. But it wasn’t until she had a child at nineteen that Deborah realized more than just her own future was at stake, and that, regardless of the obstacles, she would have to forge a path—for herself and her son—to happiness and freedom. (Synopsis provided by Amazon)

As a Messianic woman, I was interested in learning more about a different sect of Judaism. I must say that the sect Feldman is from is very different from how I was raised and how I live. Not different in a bad way, just different. 
These types of books can be hard to review as I feel like I am reviewing the authors personal life. Instead of talking about what I liked and didn't like about the book, I'm going to talk about what happened in the book and the writing style.

I think it's safe to say that Feldman had a difficult childhood. She grew up in a very strict religious family. She doesn't tell a lot about the laws of Judaism so if you aren't very familiar with the laws and customs you may find yourself doing internet searches for terms used in the book.

I did love how she described Sukkot. Which is one of my personal favorite holidays. Her descriptions of the holiday and of her life in general, were very vivid. They make the reader feel as if they were there in the room with Feldman, which is always a wonderful experience for a reader.

Some of the scenes were painful to read. The way Feldman writes is so powerful that the emotions almost leap off the page and we can feel what Feldman felt.

I do think that she was brave to leave everything she knew behind and to move out into the secular world, that is something that many people could never do. I know I would never be able to leave all that I knew for  a world foreign to me.

If you are interested in learning about the Orthodox Jewish community or if you like to read stories of strong women, I would highly recommend this book.

So say we all!