Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

disobedience

This is a re-read and I guess it’s not really difficult to tell why I picked it up again: movie-time. Yes, some folks made a movie out of it and it involves some pretty steamy scenes between Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. And because I didn’t remember any steamy scenes in the book I went and read it again – I know, I kinda got a one-way mind…

Well, what I did remember was that I liked it despite the lack of eroticism. And I still do.

Let me tell you what it’s about:

Ronit Krushka receives the crushing message that her father Rav Krushka has died. While at first, she’s not sure what to do, she later decides to return to her hometown Hendon – an Orthodox Jewish enclave close to London – for the mourning period of one month.

Hendon hasn’t changed much from how Ronit remembers it, even her old flame Esti is surprisingly still there – married to Ronit’s cousin Dovid, who’s being treated as the Rav’s successor by the synagogue board. But Dovid isn’t the orator the old Rav was, he isn’t Rav-material, and many are sure he’s also not husband enough to keep his wife in check.

Now, I’m not a religious person, though I guess I’m spiritually inclined, and texts about religion usually make me uncomfortable. Not Disobedience, though. I really cherish it as a book to learn from about Judaism, about rituals and traditions. It’s interesting to note how there are pocket-societies in Western countries and big cities which keep to themselves.

But Disobedience is not only a novel about religion, it’s also a novel about people. Ronit is a modern woman who left her faith and never returned home while her father was alive. Returning now, she encounters resistance, even though she returned to mourn her father, more than the Rav the community mourns. And while she didn’t even know that Esti was married to her cousin, her life is disrupted in a very different way. Still, Esti welcomes Ronit, hoping that she will change her life after all those years.

There’s so much humanity in this book, but also a lot of information and drama and all that good stuff I love in books. It’s thick with… literary-ty, while it’s not very thick at all. And I usually wouldn’t call a book feminist, but I feel that this one deserves it.

So, if you’re looking forward to catching the movie sometime soon, why not pick up the book first? I’m sure they will be quite different and hopefully, both are enjoyable. And even if the movie doesn’t interest you at all, this book is sooo good – never mind that nerdy stuff I mentioned earlier, it’s funny and insightful and has won a couple of awards too so I guess I’m not the only one who liked it.

Go get and happy reading.

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