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I Am Forbidden

A Novel

Markovits, Anouk

(Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
I Am Forbidden
Random House, Inc.
A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular Hasidic sect, the Satmar.

Sweeping from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn,I Am Forbidden brings to life four generations of one Satmar family.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.
When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters makes force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.
A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide,I Am Forbidden announces the arrival of an extraordinarily gifted new voice and opens a startling window on a world long closed to most of us, until now.

Baker & Taylor
"A novel spanning four generations, from pre-World War II Transylvania to contemporary New York looks at the cause and effect of both belief and non-belief within the Jewish religion, in a novel that focuses especially on the relationship of two sisters within a Hasidic sect."

& Taylor

A novel spanning four decades, from pre-World War II Transylvania to contemporary New York, looks at the cause and effect of both belief and non-belief within the Jewish religion, in a tale that focuses on the relationship of two sisters within a Hasidicsect.

Publisher: London ; New York : Hogarth, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307984739
Branch Call Number: FIC M
Characteristics: 302 p. ; 22 cm.


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Jul 09, 2014
  • MsNavillus rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book manages to make some of the complexities of ultra-Orthodox Judaism more accessible to a lay audience -- otherwise the characters' actions would be far from believable. I agree that the first half of the book is stronger than the second in terms of events, character development, and writing style. It starts to feel rushed in the middle and barrels on in a way that made me want to say "wait! Slow down and tell me more about ___!"

Feb 11, 2013
  • MBSL500 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Didn't finish - will get again and finish.
Interesting story line and seemed well written.

Jan 31, 2013
  • 21221018293347 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I am not sure why I requested this book but I did enjoy it. It is very well written and provided a good look into the Hasidic life.

Sep 16, 2012
  • Cdnbookworm rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This novel draws from the life of the author. Markovits was raised in the Satmar tradition, an ultra-conservative Jewish sect. She left it at the age of nineteen to avoid an arranged marriage and went on to further education, eventually earning a doctorate.
The novel follows three characters and begins in Transylvania, Romania near the end of World War II. Josef, a young Jewish boy, survives the murder of his family and is taken in by the family's Gentile maid, passed off as her own child. Another Jewish family is killed rushing to meet the Rebbe they believed would save them, leaving a young daughter, Mila. Josef helps Mila reach the Jewish community her father wanted her to go to, and she is raised by a family there, but never forgets Josef. Years later, Mila's story leads to Josef being taken back into the Jewish fold and sent to a religious life in the new world. Mila and her adopted family flee to Paris.
Mila grows close to her adopted sister Atara, just a year younger than her, but while Mila feels compelled to be a good Jewish woman and to one day reunite with her murdered family, Atara is full of questions, questions she is told it is not her place to ask. As these three characters' lives converge and separate we see how the question of faith becomes central to their relationships, and ultimately leads them to join together at one final crisis point.
I learned a lot about this Jewish sect, and about Romanian Jews, that I didn't know before. I found the characters interesting and would have liked to have more of Atara's story.

Aug 17, 2012
  • geezr_rdr rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I found this to be an easy read and really enjoyed the description of the Satmir lifestyle as an expression of their faith. A worthy companion to Asher Lev’s books about Hasidic Judaism.

Jul 25, 2012
  • Rock_Shadow rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The first part of the book is well done, the intertwine of the war events, families, and religion makes for fascinating and enjoyable reading. I found the rift in sisters' thinking and feeling believable. Unfortunately, the author seemed to have bailed out of the story, and in the second half or so she mostly lists events. This book could have been a great epic had the author continued writing the story the way she started it.

Jul 25, 2012
  • nelll rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

really enjoyed this book. But i think the writer could have gone more in depths of the Jewish religion.


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Markovits, Anouk
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