Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Hush by Eishes Chayil
Hush by Eishes Chayil
"Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe."- summary from Amazon
I will admit that when I got this book at BEA, I only got it for the cover (which doesn't look that good on the internet but in person, it's great. So anyway, I had no idea what the book was about until I picked it up to read. Luckily, the summary really pulled me in. It was very original and featured a setting I'd never read about before.
I could hardly put the book down. For most of it, it's kind of a quiet book. There is that sense of mystery going on with what sort of abuse Gittel's friend went through, and the reveal of it is heart-breaking to read. But a lot of it is very character-heavy and about Gittel's guilt over it and the silence she has to endure. But even though it's more character-driven than plot-driven, the narrative voice really pulled me in and kept me turning the pages.
Despite the abuse side of the story, there is humor sprinkled throughout the novel. Now, there's legitimate humor, and then there's stuff I laughed at that I probably shouldn't have, as it pertained to their culture and how they're raised and what they're taught. On the flipside, what they're taught about the outside world and non-Jews shocked me. It just didn't seem right and more hateful than most religions as they seemed to hate everybody but their own.
The story is divided up into two parts- the first part alternates between 2003 (when Devory is still alive) and 2009 (when Gittel is close to marrying age) and the second part is 2010 when Gittel is married off. I think Chayil did a great job of weaving the first part together and making it flow cohesively.
Overall, this is a powerful, lyrical, heart-wrenching story and is highly recommended, especially for fans of Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson.
FTC: Recieved ARC at BEA. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.