cover image Exodus


Deborah Feldman. Penguin/Blue Rider, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-399-16277-0

Feldman's (Unorthodox) second memoir examines her life after leaving the Hasidic community in which she was raised. After settling in New England with her six-year-old son, Isaac, she begins a search for personal history and identity. This personal journey is also a physical one as Feldman sets off on many excursions. She takes Isaac to Cordoba, Spain, where she is horrified to learn that are only 10 Jews left in the city. Feldman travels to Hungary where her grandmother, a holocaust survivor, was born, in the search for "something along the lines of closure." Her adventures are presented out of chronological order%E2%80%94a choice that makes the story confusing%E2%80%94and include France, Austria, Germany, and a cross-country drive. Her most intriguing explorations are often the domestic ones. While visiting a Sarah Lawrence classmate in the Southwest, for example, Feldman meets her first "authentic Republican" and takes her first bite of shrimp in front of an eager audience. In New Orleans she falls in love with Conor, a "redneck with a shotgun collection." Her most surprising love affair is with Markus, whom she first encounters online and meets in-person in Germany. Markus, descended from Nazis, admits that "[h]is grandmother had boasted about kissing Hitler's hand." Feldman richly describes her triumph following her "escape" from a restrictive way of life. Agent: Patricia van der Leun, The Patricia van der Leun Literary Agency. (Mar.)