The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham

The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham: Rachel is the teenaged daughter of a rabbi in a cloistered Hasidic community. She’s quite the rebel: she gets a library card, reads romance novels, wears sheer stockings, goes out without a kerchief, and wants to wear a swimsuit while working as a lifeguard (as opposed to an ankle-length dress). This book would have been much less frustrating had the rest of the family been more sympathetic. Everyone was so spiteful and self-centered, ready to sell out their kin in an instant to make themselves look good in front of the neighbors. It was frankly sickening. The ending was moderately uplifting, but by that point I was so tired of the petty bickering that I was just ready for it to be over. It was interesting to learn a little bit about Orthodox Jewish customs, such as the various things they cannot do during Shabbat and their wedding rituals, but mostly I wanted to take everyone in this family by the shoulders and give them a good shake.

Note: All comments in this review refer exclusively to the characters and situations in this novel. None of my comments are meant to apply to Hasidic culture or the Jewish community in general.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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