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Review: Brooklyn Love by Yael Levy

Summary
For any young woman, it can be hard to follow the rules . . . especially when you're falling in love.

But for Rachel, Hindy, and Leah, it's especially hard. Because as Orthodox Jews, they live by a whole different set of rules. No touching a guy - any guy! - before marriage. No dating - unless they are considering marriage - and then, only marrying a man who rates high on their parents' checklists.

All Rachel's mother wants for her daughter is to see that her daughter marries well. Naturally, this is where the rich, Columbia U educated lawyer comes in. The problem is, Rachel's already found a guy who makes her heart race. A Rabbi. But how could a struggling Rabbi possibly give Rachel the security her mother demands?

Hindy is very pious and only wants to marry a Talmud scholar. The problem is, she's in love with an Orthodox Jewish guy she works with. How long can she keep saying no when her heart says yes? And will she be able to stick to her values amidst temptation?

Leah wants to be a doctor, but her mother insists she study computers even though she hates computers. Her mom, a struggling immigrant, has fixed ideas about the course to success and marriage - which doesn't include any of Leah's wishes. What will it take for Leah to break out of her mom's - and community's - expectations and follow her dreams?

In Brooklyn Love, three Orthodox Jewish women who are caught between crushing guilt of defying their mothers and their desire to be ''normal'' are there for each other as they try to figure out who they really are . . . and what they really want.

Review
Before reading Brooklyn Love, my comprehension of the Orthodox Jewish faith was very limited. Whether you are a member of this community or not, it is a story for anyone who has ever been in love or wants love. Usually when one thinks of dating, there are presumptions of intentions with the understanding that time and getting to know each other would determine the direction of the relationship. To my surprise, this book brought a new perspective of love within the cultural norms of a community that rules contrasts this universal secular belief.

Even though the book highlighted elements centered on the culture of the Jewish Orthodox faith, Yael created a story that centered on the lives of three young women that anyone could appreciate. Not being familiar with the rules, it was very fascinating reading a book centered on their dating culture. Not being able to touch any guy before marriage and no dating unless they were marriage contenders who rated high on their parent’s checklist, gave the book a unique a perspective that opened my mind on a culture whose beliefs about love are centered through their faith and community. 

The book was easy to read with core aspects of the characters that were relatable to anyone. There are elements of the book in terms of what happens with certain characters that many might challenge its authenticity but I thought it gave a modern perspective of what many young women similarly face. With such strong influences today challenging so many that have strong cultural ties to communities as such, I thought the story paralleled them in a way depicting the pressures of conforming to the beliefs of life outside versus staying true to their cultural laws and stability of their community. 

Here is an introduction to the three ladies to get you started:

Rachel walks that liberal line of thinking, bordering on the want to please her mother to the laws of what should be. Her mother wants her to marry this this lawyer who has the prestige attached to his education. In her eyes, he will provide the security that would give her a great life. Rachel has someone else in mind who she can’t stop thinking about who is a Rabbi. Does she marry for what her heart says or for the status of the community?

Leah whose heart is set on being a doctor, her mother has been pressuring her to take up another study even though she isn’t interested. If her mother had it her way, she wouldn’t even be going to college. She has a certain belief about how she should be and what it will take to obtain a marriage. Her quest is to find her a match but with every one she picks, there is no success. One day she comes across someone who catches her heart but will he be a match? 

Hindy is one of those characters that you really feel for. She is not very confident in how she looks. She is someone that would be such a wonderful person to any guy who would really marry her. Her heart is set on her match to be a Talmud scholar. Sometimes in life, who you least expect can be your perfect match. An unlikely candidate in her book sees something in her that captures his heart, will stay true to her beliefs?

That is just a little bit about the characters to get you started. There are so many aspects of their story that is engaging. Their journey is filled with friendship, loyalty and the challenges trying to find themselves and what they want through their cultural laws and familial obligations. Go into this book with an open mind and you will come out with an appreciation for how far some will sacrifice for the heart.

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

Book Information
Publisher: F & W Media Inc
Publication date: 12/28/2012
Pages: 264

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