16 Must-Read Books for February 2013
A novel of life during (future) wartime, a scholarly decoding of Jane Austen, historical fiction set in a Mexican border town and more captivating reads.
Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D
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Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde
For a generation of women who grew up watching Sex and the City, Manhattan is the Promised Land—or as Rebecca Dana puts it in her hilarious, self-deprecating new memoir, it's "my Jerusalem—the shining city off in the distance, the only place to go." Dana arrives with a new nose, a suitcase full of high heels, and a $24,000-a-year position as a newspaper reporter for The New York Observer. She is a "comer," blissfully ensconced in a life right out of Carrie Bradshaw's columns, until a breakup and an overdrawn bank account force her to retreat to an unfashionable corner of Brooklyn, in an ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch section. Here she shares an eyesore of an apartment with a Russian rabbi more interested in guzzling beer and watching Top Chef than in reading the Torah. Their unlikely friendship is at the core of this insightful tale of two fish out of water, an odd couple who together confront their very different God issues. Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde serves up a sly portrait of a city where "everyone else's stories [fall] like fresh soot from the skyscrapers above." In the end, the rabbi is no longer a rabbi and the godless blonde is now a brunette. True to form, they came to New York and reinvented themselves. Mazel tov.
— Karen Duffy