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Unorthodox

The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots
Written by: Deborah Feldman
Series: Unorthodox, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (56 ratings)

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Publisher's 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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Beautiful storytelling...

Absolutely perfect...Thank you for having courage to speak out...you helped others come out and feel safe to voice their stories.

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Meh

If you’re expecting this novel to be like the Netflix series, move along. Aside from the main character and general references, the two are really not related.

This novel is 30% ruminating on Deborah’s childhood experiences and dashed expectations, 60% complaining about how everyone around her does not appreciate her specialness, intelligence or place in life and the disappointment and emotional turmoil this causes her. 20% of the novel focuses on her marital relationship and, again, how it (and Eli) is yet another source of disappointment in her life. Yet at no point does she take responsibility for her own actions.

In short, this is more of a treatise on how life has failed Deborah. Failed to acknowledge her uniqueness. Failed to provide her with a faith that fulfills her. Fails to give her whatever she needs to salve her ginormous ego.

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Unorthodox

Amazing! Narrator of the book was phenomenal - afterword narrator sound like a computer, almost impossible to listen to. It’s too bad bc the continuing story was interesting...

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Must "read"

Wonderful narration of a captivating autobiography. I binged this right after watching the short Netflix series.

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Loved it

I came to this book because of the show. Loved both so much. I think it will be one of those stories that I will carry with me forever

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picked it up after binge watching the Netflix show

this is a great audiobook, goes into detail into the life of a young hasidic Jewish woman and how she grew up. I grew up in a modern reform Jewish home, so it was interesting to hear about how extreme and different it is. great story. highly recommend.

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Love this book! Hard to stop listening

I love Rachel Botcham as the narrator
The story describes her lack of control her dimeaning events, her role as a wife mostly for sex and procreation, yet her delivery is not of emotion but sheer courage and strength and acceptance and finally freedom. Her wisdom for such a young age is astounding.
I didn’t like that the epilogue was a different narrator. You connect with Rachel and I would have preferred her soothing uplifting voice at the end, I understand why the narrator was changed, because of her age,yet still would have preferred Rachel.
Keep the same narrator all the way through
The reader feels a connection with her. This is the thing I dislike most about many audiobooks I buy.
Thank you!

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review

I didn't love the narrator at first, but she grew on me. I decided to listen after watching the amazing Netflix series, which left me wanting more of the story. I'm happy I did.

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The Netflix series is much better

This book was neither good or bad it was just meh! Slow and boring. The Netflix series is much better. Don't waste a credit on the book just watch it instead.

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  • B. Sloan
  • 2020-04-04

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.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Phyllis
  • 2020-04-24

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Chelsea Lensing
  • 2020-03-19

Such an inspiring and fascinating story.

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

6 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel M
  • 2020-04-08

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Rosana Ghussin
  • 2020-04-06

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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  • Kesha R. Abdul-Mateen
  • 2020-04-04

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth Steele
  • 2020-05-16

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • wanda
  • 2020-05-15

Very very good

Completely loved this book. Learned a lot about the Orthodox community. Very well written and insightful..

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kathy-Jane
  • 2020-05-04

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jey Auritt
  • 2020-04-07

Incredibly interesting saga

I gained insight into the ultra orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn This women’s saga was mesmerizing and I truly enjoyed being part of her inspiring journey

1 person found this helpful