O's 2012 Summer Reading List

No matter your mood, there's a great book to suit it. Don't forget to print the full list here!
I Am Forbidden

I Am Forbidden

329 pages; Hogarth
Author Anouk Markovits and her 14 brothers and sisters were raised in the most insular and fundamentalist sect of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar. Markovits left home when she was 19 to avoid an arranged marriage and to pursue an education. And yet now she's written a novel about Mila, a fictional woman who embraces her faith. In introspective but fast-moving prose, the story provides an up-close look at life in an intensely orthodox culture. Strict rules about everything, from clothing to relationships, dominate (no collarbones exposed, not even by half an inch). Life in Paris, where much of the book is set, is at once beautiful yet confining, so much so that when the children clamber up the stairs, cheeks flushed from playing, their father reprimands them: "Why so much joy in the wilderness?" At age 17, Mila's arranged marriage to Josef seems promising, and the two immigrate to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But when Mila has difficulty conceiving, she begins to examine her faith and takes a dramatic step that she tries to justify by explaining that "sometimes the only way to bring more holiness into the world is to shroud an act in sin." Mila keeps the secret behind her pregnancy from everyone until her older estranged sister, Atara, comes for a visit, at which point the novel changes from what might seem like a narrowly focused tale about an ultraconservative world into a story that will resonate with anyone who's ever bucked family expectations to find their own way of life.
— Lynn Andriani