I have mixed feelings on this novel. On one hand, this novel excellently brings diversity to the table and lets average Americans peek in to the Hasidic religion; but on the other hand, Jax was an extremely flat character. He went in to the romance with nothing to lose and as such the west side story comparison is a little lost (until it's regained in the off-kilter ending.)
Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing.
Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters).
They've spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did.
When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection.
Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?
In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it.
Devorah is a gem, I identify with her a lot as my religion wrestles with me too. She goes out on a limb to explore the non Hasidic world with a boy named Jax and she gets it. She just doesn't know exactly what she wants or how much she can explore within reason. She struggles with her reason and to me that makes her a very real character.
The story flowed pretty quickly from the beginning, and continued at a steady pace throughout the novel. The ending was a little jerky however. I feel like Jax made this huge effort not to give up and then in the end he just kind of threw his hands up and said "Ah well..." and that transition just didn't flow very well with the rest of the story.
I did like, however, like Devorah's ending narration, about how she's adopted some of the world, while still keeping her faith. She even expresses that her journey of exploration isn't quite over, and that she looks forward to exploring her new life of faith and compromises.
It was all in all very lovely to read. So on this basis I give it four stars. The only other problem I had with it, was the fact that Devorah did continue to compromise with her faith. It's strange to think about but in Christianity there is no compromise. You are either expending all energies to become more like Jesus, or you are compromising with the world and in return aren't living a Christian lifestyle.
So to see Devorah's family accepting this new mixed version of her was unusual for me. nonetheless, four stars. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a #WeNeedDiverseBooks novel.
About the Author
Una LaMarche is a writer and amateur Melrose Place historian who lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, her son, and her hoard of vintage Sassy magazines. Una used to be a fancy magazine and newspaper editor before she had a baby and started writing from home, sometimes pantsless, for a living. Her first novel, Five Summers, is being released from Razorbill in May, and she’s currently in development on a second. She also writes for The New York Observer (of which she is a former managing editor), The Huffington Post, Vegas Seven, NickMom, and Aiming Low. Una continues to blog at The Sassy Curmudgeon, which she started in 2006 as a way to bring shame to her family. You can find her on Twitter under the handle @sassycurmudgeon. (If she’s not there, she’s probably trolling the internet for celebrity blind items or bulk candy.)
You can find her on social medias here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway