Hush by Eishes Chayil. Published by Walker Books for Young Readers. Read in December, 2010. Copy purchased for my high school library.
A Fast Five Review:
1. Eishes Chayil is a pseudonym. The author’s bio states that the name means “woman of valor” and that she grew up in the Hasidic community. One may assume that she has written what she knows.
2. I could see how some readers might struggle and put this down. It’s a serious, scary subject matter set in a Hasidic Jewish community, a world unfamiliar to many of today’s teens. I would argue that delving in to different religious community is no less interesting than a vampire community, but the lack of an overarching romance story could lose some readers. To those readers, I would suggest coming back to it in a couple of years as it is a powerful book.
3. The story is told through Gittel, a young girl growing up in Brooklyn’s Borough Park. The reader learns a lot about this Hasidic (Chassidim is the spelling used in the book) community, their beliefs and traditions. This is incredibly interesting! A glossary is provided in the back of the book which helps with definitions and pronunciations.
4. Gittel is a well-crafted character. She is smart, loyal, and full of love for those in her world, including the goyim upstairs.
5. Part of Gittel’s story involves an arranged marriage. I really appreciated how the author handled this: the difficulties and pleasantries. Having read books that take a negative view on arranged marriages, as a librarian, I value having something in my collection that is honest without making every arranged marriage look like a nightmare.
Hush is an emotional read that is worth your time.