The Romance Reader

The Romance Reader

Book - 1996
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Widely applauded when it was published last year, Pearl Abraham's debut novel The Romance Reader possesses that quality that distinguishes all great fiction--a fresh look at the universal truths that bind us together. Like Chaim Potok, who revealed the Orthodox Jewish world from a young man's perspective in The Chosen , Abraham explores new ground, offering readers a tender story of a young Hasidic woman facing the challenges of growing up and the demands of her religion.

Rachel Benjamin is the daughter of a quixotic rabbi who dreams of building a synagogue in the secluded upstate New York bungalow colony where his family now lives. As the rabbi's eldest daughter, Rachel is expected to set an example for her five siblings and for the other girls in the community: she must wear thick opaque tights with seams; she is forbidden to wear a bathing suit in public; and she can never read books in English. But like all young adults, Rachel bristles at the stringent rules set by her family and her religion, rebelling in ways that become increasingly apparent. Whether sneaking sheer nylons in and out of the house or applying for an illicit library card that will allow her access to the romance novels that she loves, Rachel is determined to do things her way. Dreaming of a life that mirrors that of the heroines in her favorite novels, Rachel craves the independence she will never have as a Hasidic woman in an arranged marriage. And yet, as her impending marriage draws inevitably nearer, the pulls of family and faith weigh against the frightening and unknown world beyond her own.

This coming-of-age tale is both unusual and familiar--an intriguing, heartfelt look at the power of family and religion in the Hasidic community and the universal desire to leave the nest.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 1996
Edition: Riverhead trade paperback edition
ISBN: 9781573225489
1573225487
Branch Call Number: FICTION Abr
Characteristics: 296 pages ; 22 cm

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Marlowe Jan 08, 2016

Pearl Abraham introduces us to Rachel, an Hasidic Jewish young woman who is coming of age, and struggling with the values and expectations of her community. Rachel's rebellion is found in the form of a library card, opening up her world, and creating doubt and conflict in her heart. It is fascinating to learn about the Hasidic traditions, but also difficult to watch a young woman struggle in a male dominated culture. An empowering read for anyone.

t
TrixiPost
Apr 27, 2014

I loved this book. I found the Hassidic world in which Rachel lives utterly fascinating. As a reader and independent woman I was rooting for Rachel to rebel and feed her soul in any way she desires. She is utterly trapped and Pearl Abraham writes about a cloistered world in the way only one who was from that world can write. I couldn't put this down. A wonderful read.

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