The Book of Separation: A Memoir Book Review

It’s always easier to go along with the crowd. But what happens when going along with the crowd doesn’t feel right?

Writer Tova Mirvis was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family. As an adult, she followed the prescribed path of marriage, career, children and faith. But something didn’t feel quite right.  Her memoir, The Book Of Separation, chronicles the bold and scary decision Ms. Mirvis made to divorce her husband and break from the Orthodox Jewish faith and community that was part and parcel of her life.

Human beings are creatures of habit. Breaking from those habits is never easy, especially when it comes to religion and family. I enjoyed the book for two reasons. The first reason is that the reader is easily able to hook into the journey and the emotions of the writer. The second reason is that her story is universal. There is always fear when one breaks away from the safe and the comfortable, even when the safe and comfortable does not feel right to us. Many of us have gone through or will go through a similar journey that the author experienced.

Do I recommend it? Yes.


The Ladies Auxiliary Book Review

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.


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