Friday, May 4, 2012

New titles bloom @ your library

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

Kirkus Reviews -

A young woman's coming-of-age and escape from a sect of Hasidic Judaism. In her debut memoir, Feldman recounts the many struggles endured while growing up within a particularly orthodox branch of Hasidic Judaism. The daughter of mentally unstable parents, the author was raised by her Hasidic grandparents, whose allegiance to their religious and cultural traditions often proved problematic for the young Feldman. Cloistered from the secular world, the author's pinhole-sized view of New York kept her at a continual disadvantage, providing a singular narrative for understanding the world beyond her neighborhood. As she matured, Feldman became more aware of the inner turmoil "brewing madly between my own thoughts and the teachings I was absorbing." As she continued to question her faith, she soon recognized the tyrannical aspects of the traditions, the culmination of which led to an arranged marriage for her and another young Hasid, Eli. Despite the sect's blessing, the marriage soon faltered, primarily due to sexual problems spurred by an utter lack of knowledge by both partners. The Hasidic community's uncompromising insularity rendered the young couple woefully unprepared for their relationship, as well as the parental responsibilities that followed soon after. After Eli continued to place his strict observance of Judaic tradition above the health of his pregnant wife, Feldman acknowledged her own unimportance in their relationship. Having endured her second-class citizenship long enough, she took her child and fled to the outside world, basking in her newfound liberty. It was a bold move, but Feldman doesn't fully capture the significance of her departure. A remarkable tale told somewhat unremarkably.

Left for Dead by J. A. Jance

Kirkus Reviews -

An ex-detective is never too busy to help out a friend. Ali Reynolds, former reporter and police officer, is busy creating a new garden in mystical Sedona, Ariz., and dealing with her parents' sudden decision to sell their restaurant and house and move on to new adventures. Then she receives a call from a former police academy classmate that another classmate has been shot and is in critical condition with his pregnant wife and two kids at his side. Ali heads for Physicians Medical Center in Tucson, where she also discovers her friend Sister Amselm, a patient advocate for an unidentified young woman found raped and badly beaten in the desert. Ali's old buddy Jose Reyes is suspected of drug dealing, since drugs and money were found in his police car and home after he was shot in what he called a routine traffic stop on a deserted side road. Jose's wife Teresa is trying to cope with the accusation, two frustrated little girls and an ex-mother-in-law who blames her for her son's death and hints that she may try to get custody of the children. No wonder Teresa must have an emergency C-section, leaving Ali to deal with all the other problems. Sister Anselm realizes that her charge is not the illegal resident the border patrol dumped in the hospital, but a young girl whose family has been looking for her for years. Now she may be the key to catching a serial killer who tortures his victims before consigning them to the desert. It's up to Ali to find out who's framed Jose and help Sister track down a dangerous man. Loyal fans and newcomers alike will be glad to join feisty Ali (Fatal Error, 2011, etc.) in her latest adventure.

The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay

Kirkus Reviews -

Amid Baron Haussmann's demolition of her quartier, a woman refuses to leave her home in de Rosnay's latest (Sarah's Key, 2008, etc.). During the reign of Napoleon III, his prefect Baron Haussmann embarked on a mammoth undertaking to modernize Paris. In order to construct the branching boulevard system Paris is now renowned for, entire neighborhoods of twisting cobbled alleyways and lanes were razed. The residents of these now-forgotten neighborhoods were displaced. For the aging widow Rose Bazelet, who has lived for decades in her well-appointed home on rue Childebert near the Church of Saint-Germain-des-PrĂ©s, starting over somewhere else is out of the question. Rose's house, in addition to being her refuge from her difficult childhood with an unloving mother, has been the repository of her great loves and most significant memories: Her beloved mother-in-law died there, her husband Armand grew senile and died there, her children (her own unloved daughter Violette and favored son Baptiste, claimed by cholera at age 10) were born there. When the citizens of rue Childebert are first notified of the impending "expropriation" of their street, they assume their proximity to the Church will save them, but it is not to be. The restaurateur, hotelier, chocolatier, bookshop owner and other local merchants, including the florist, Rose's dearest friend Alexandrine, all vacate. Once peaceful, rue Childebert is now a wasteland of dust, falling rubble and clamorous demolition crews. Only Rose remains. Her belongings have been sent to Violette's home in the country, but Rose has no intention of moving. Subsisting on the scavenged leavings brought to her by Gilbert, a clochard she once aided, she writes an extended letter to Armand, reflecting on her life, and attempting to parse her own motivations. All tends toward the revelation of a secret she has confessed to no one. De Rosnay's delicacy and the flavor of her beloved Paris are everywhere in this brief but memorable book. Replete with treats, particularly for Paris-lovers--indeed for anyone wedded to a special place.

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