I Am Forbidden

I Am Forbidden

A Novel

Book - 2012
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The extraordinary story of a sister who believes and a sister who rebels, set inside the most insular Hasidic sect, the Satmar.

Spanning four generations, from pre-World War II Transylvania, to 1960s Paris, to contemporary New York, Markovits' masterful novel shows what happens when unwavering love and unyielding law clash--a rabbi will save himself while his followers perish; a Gentile maid will be commanded to give up the boy she rescued because he is not of her faith; two devoted sisters will be forced apart when one begins to question their religion's ancient doctrine. One sister embraces and finds comfort in the constraints of the world she's always known, while the other knows she will suffocate in a life without intellectual freedom. Separated by the rules of their community, the two sisters are brought together again when a family secret threatens to make pariahs of them all. Dark, powerful, and utterly compelling, I Am Forbidden takes us deep inside the minds of those who leave their restrictive environments, and deep into the souls of those who struggle to stay.
Publisher: Toronto : Bond Street Books, c2012.
ISBN: 9780385676731
Characteristics: 302 p. ;,22 cm.


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MBSL500 Feb 11, 2013

Didn't finish - will get again and finish.
Interesting story line and seemed well written.

Jan 31, 2013

I am not sure why I requested this book but I did enjoy it. It is very well written and provided a good look into the Hasidic life.

Cdnbookworm Sep 16, 2012

This novel draws from the life of the author. Markovits was raised in the Satmar tradition, an ultra-conservative Jewish sect. She left it at the age of nineteen to avoid an arranged marriage and went on to further education, eventually earning a doctorate.
The novel follows three characters and begins in Transylvania, Romania near the end of World War II. Josef, a young Jewish boy, survives the murder of his family and is taken in by the family's Gentile maid, passed off as her own child. Another Jewish family is killed rushing to meet the Rebbe they believed would save them, leaving a young daughter, Mila. Josef helps Mila reach the Jewish community her father wanted her to go to, and she is raised by a family there, but never forgets Josef. Years later, Mila's story leads to Josef being taken back into the Jewish fold and sent to a religious life in the new world. Mila and her adopted family flee to Paris.
Mila grows close to her adopted sister Atara, just a year younger than her, but while Mila feels compelled to be a good Jewish woman and to one day reunite with her murdered family, Atara is full of questions, questions she is told it is not her place to ask. As these three characters' lives converge and separate we see how the question of faith becomes central to their relationships, and ultimately leads them to join together at one final crisis point.
I learned a lot about this Jewish sect, and about Romanian Jews, that I didn't know before. I found the characters interesting and would have liked to have more of Atara's story.

geezr_rdr Aug 17, 2012

I found this to be an easy read and really enjoyed the description of the Satmir lifestyle as an expression of their faith. A worthy companion to Asher Lev’s books about Hasidic Judaism.

MsNavillus Aug 04, 2012

This book manages to make some of the complexities of ultra-Orthodox Judaism more accessible to a lay audience -- otherwise the characters' actions would be far from believable. I agree that the first half of the book is stronger than the second in terms of events, character development, and writing style. It starts to feel rushed in the middle and barrels on in a way that made me want to say "wait! Slow down and tell me more about ___!"

Jul 25, 2012

The first part of the book is well done, the intertwine of the war events, families, and religion makes for fascinating and enjoyable reading. I found the rift in sisters' thinking and feeling believable. Unfortunately, the author seemed to have bailed out of the story, and in the second half or so she mostly lists events. This book could have been a great epic had the author continued writing the story the way she started it.

Jul 25, 2012

really enjoyed this book. But i think the writer could have gone more in depths of the Jewish religion.

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