The best narratives are often the ones that are universal. Transcending the place, time and the characters, these stories speak to all of us, regardless of who we are, where are we are from and what we believe.
In 2009, writer Tova Mirvis published her first book, The Ladies Auxiliary. In a small corner of Memphis, Tennessee, a group of Orthodox Jewish families have banded together to create a community within a community. Enter Batsheva, the widow of one of the sons of the community. Arriving with her young daughter, Ayala, Batsheva is clearly an outsider in more ways than one.
The women in the community are hesitant to embrace her, but some do. But even while she starts to integrate into the community, some of the women are still suspicious of her, especially when she maybe the catalyst for change in their growing children. Will Batsheva be accepted as one of their own or will she forever be an outsider?
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, there is a universal theme of acceptance and being open to someone or something new. The reader does not have to be Jewish or an Orthodox Jew (though it helps, especially when it comes the religious rituals and traditions) to understand the characters and the narrative. But at the same time, the writer jumps from several point of views and perhaps a bit dryly spends a little too much time explaining the religious rituals and traditions.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.