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THE OUTSIDE WORLD

Tova Mirvis, Author
Tova Mirvis, Author . Knopf $24 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4161-9
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Open Ebook - 217 pages - 978-0-307-42912-4
Paperback - 283 pages - 978-1-4000-7528-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-00126-8
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With a sharp and sympathetic eye for the oft neglected and misunderstood worlds of ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox Judaism, Mirvis (The Ladies Auxiliary ) crafts a compelling narrative that delves into the lives of two families, each struggling with its own insecurities and difficulties. In this second novel, 22-year-old Orthodox Tzippy, born and bred in Jewish Brooklyn and insulated from secular society but secretly curious and eager to experience it, is barraged with meddlesome questions and with a slew of seemingly endless carbon-copy dates intended to facilitate her marriage to a reputable yeshiva boy before she turns into a spinster. Meanwhile, not too far away, Naomi and Joel, Modern Orthodox Jews, are straining to knock some sense into their suddenly ultra-religious son, Bryan (now calling himself by his Hebrew name Baruch), who has morphed from a head-banging, jeans-wearing, girl-chasing jock into a soul-searching, Talmud-studying, black-hat Jew interested only in immersing himself in God's laws and the Torah. When these two formerly separate worlds collide, parents, siblings and spouses must reflect on what their faith means to them and what to do when their beliefs unexpectedly diverge from those of loved ones. At times giddily humorous, at times stirring and sorrowful, Mirvis's insightful novel is packed with convincing detail, from descriptions of yarmulkes (fancifully embroidered or stolid black velvet) to the varieties of wigs worn by married ultra-Orthodox women. The characters' frequent use of distinctively Jewish terms and ideas gives the novel a foreign air, but the universal themes of growing up and choosing a fitting life to lead will resonate with readers of all faiths. Agent, Nicole Aragi. 7-city author tour. (Apr.)

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