Walker & Co., 2010
for: young adults and adults
Eishes Chayil is a pseudonym. This book is written by a member of the Hassidic community in New York, and is an eye-opening page-turner. The first half of the book flips back and forth between 2000, when Gittel was nine, and 2008, when she was 17. The second half of the book is set a bit later, after Gittel is out of high school, 18, and hoping to find a husband and marry. This is what her whole life has built towards, marriage, and children. A family of her own. We watch her become engaged....married....pregnant. But as this all happens, she is becoming more frequently visited by a ghost from her past, a ghost who won't let go until Gittel does something to help her.
This is the premise of the story. Gittel is haunted by the best friend who committed suicide when they were 9. Devory had been sexually abused by her brother. The biggest problem - her community's "hushing up" of this sort of event. There are lots of great reviews out there in cyberspace, lots of raves for this book. I'll add a few links below.
I was, of course, appalled and upset by the premise of the book. But I was more distressed by the things I learned about the Hassidic community. The extreme hatred of "goyim." The absolute lack-of-knowledge about sex and sexuality. And the place of the female in this culture. More than extreme. Racism. Hatred. I realize that this sect of Judaism is very small, but it quite freaked me out.
Here's a review from a Jew in her blog, Bad for Shidduchim (and I learned, from reading Hush, the Shidduch means an engagement) I don't think she's an orthodox Jew, though. And then there's the review in The Curious Jew. And here's a third, from The Velveteen Rabbi.