Unorthodox - Deborah Feldman


By Deborah Feldman

  • Release Date: 2012-02-14
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 1,138 Ratings

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Now a Netflix original series!

Unorthodox is the bestselling memoir of a young Jewish woman’s escape from a religious sect, in the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel and Carolyn Jessop’s Escape, featuring a new epilogue by the author.

As a member of the strictly religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, Deborah Feldman grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. Yet in spite of her repressive upbringing, Deborah grew into an independent-minded young woman whose stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to imagine an alternative way of life among the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at nineteen and realized that, regardless of the obstacles, she would have to forge a path—for herself and her son—to happiness and freedom.

Remarkable and fascinating, this “sensitive and memorable coming-of-age story” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) is one you won’t be able to put down.


  • Much Different From Netflix

    By D-273
    I watched the first 10 minutes of the Netflix series of the same name and knew immediately I wanted to read the book. I bought it instantly on iTunes and started reading it the moment I finished the series. The book is completely different. The series says “based on” this book, and that is a very, very loose statement. None of the characters in the series are in the book, and those that bear any similarities aren’t given the same roles they have in the series. While the book is definitely a memoir of a girl escaping her religious upbringing, if you’re expecting a more in-depth version of the events shown in the Netflix series, it is not that. I bought this memoir expecting exactly that, and was disappointed to find it was a description of her life in the community and her thoughts growing up rather than the tale of escape the series makes it out to be. Only the last chapter is dedicated to her actually leaving the community, as it is far less dramatic than the show makes it out to be. There’s no evil stalker or other men coming after her, or anyone threatening her in any way. There’s no drama whatsoever in this book, no narrow escape to a foreign city, no dream of musical excellence, no homelessness - none of the struggles the series is supposedly “based on” are there. Even her mother is only mentioned once or twice, and never by name. It’s decently written, but had I known it bears virtually no similarity to the series of the same name, I wouldn’t have bought it.
  • A brave tale of awakening.

    By Gamez Mario
    Thank you for shining the light into such a closed and secluded community. By understanding more I now feel compelled to accept them and respect their way of life. The only thing missing in such a community is gender equality. A wonderful tale. Mario Gamez
  • Good Read

    By TRao10
    Interesting account of life inside the insular, religious Satmar community. The journey of growing up feeling "different" to finding her authentic self is fascinating. I look forward to Ms. Feldman's follow up book, Exodus.
  • Unorthodox

    By Shexy52
    I read this book all evening and did not want it to end. Related to the authors personal journey to create and live her own life, one where she was the driving force. Interesting facts about her Hassidic community and why they live as they do and believe what they believe. I hoe this is the first of more books to come from Deborah Feldman.
  • Amazing Amazing read

    By Sexyspartan2012
    I was hooked from beginning to end. It was an inspiring book with great visuals about a young woman's journey to freedom in the modern world. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good nightclub read!!!!!!
  • Unbelievable

    By Koidesh
    The author of this book know very well that each word and every segment and episode of this book is false bluff and funny. א צורידערטע אפגעפארע פרוי, וואס אנטלויפט פונעם אייגענע שאטן, זי ווייסט אויך זייער גוט אז די גואישע לעבנסשטייגער איז גרוליג, פארשאלטען, און מיזרעבל....
  • Unorthodox

    By Careon
    I found this book very interesting. Both my parents were brought up in orthodox Jewish homes but they never talked much about it. It helped me understand some of their behaviors that seemed rather at odds to our daily lives. They had given up institutionalized Judaism by the time I was five. This book clarified a lot of things for me. I also enjoyed reading about how a woman found her strength and identity. This is a book worth reading from a historical prospective and is entertaining.
  • Riveting

    By Jenyenifer
    Could hardly put this book down. I am a reform Jew and have read other books on the Hasidic community. This was the most detailed one yet. I used to envy the fact that in that community everyone knows what is expected of them and how reassuring that must be, and now I finally see the other side of the rebel who wants freedom. Great story and writing. I'm going to have my daughters read it too. Thank you so much for sharing. From a Jewish female California dentist!
  • Unorthodox

    By Lisa studs
    Thank you for writing this book. I live very close to the Hasidic community in Lakewood nj and have always been curious about their culture. You have answered a lot of questions. The funny thing is now I want more! I would lose to hear more from your wonderful brave and amazing story!
  • Liberating Read!

    By Milanasays
    This was one of the best books i have read in a long time! Deborah gives you a direct perspective into the hasidic community and what is expected of them since the time they are born. Her story is captivating to say the least. Im sure there are millions of women in the hasidic community today who struggle with their need of freedom. Who sneak reading secular books for a mental escape to the outside world. Maybe those women will come across "Unorthodox" and have the motivation to find their own freedom. I salute Deborah for being brave and fighting not only for her own freedom but the freedom of her son! Hopefully some day her son can appreciate the difficult decision his mother made to provide a better life for him. For those of you that haven't read her story, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! :)