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Blair Reads Books #5: Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman

Hello, friends!  Here comes another edition of the newly retitled, Blair Reads Books!  I'm going to take a hiatus next weekend due to the holiday and will be traveling the following weekend, but come mid-July this series will be back!  This week I cover the book, Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman.  It is a memoir about growing up Hasidic Jew and ultimately leaving the religion.  Because religion and politics make for awesome (sarcasm...) dinner table topics, I keep this written post light.  That said, because my new YouTube channel will not just be about fashion I delve more into my thoughts there if you are curious.  And please subscribe, as over the next two weeks I will be posting other things despite taking a break from the book series!

Why anyone would like this book: I find that most people are intrigued by lifestyles that are not their own, and find more simple lifestyles fascinating.  Deborah grew up in a orthodox sect of Judaism where technology was not used as frequently, despited having been born in the 80s and living in New York City.  This reads like she grew up in another time entirely and anywhere but modern New York City, so it is a good cultural read and reality check that not everyone has the same lifestyle as most people.

How polarizing is this book? Out of a lot of books about religious escapees, I find Unorthodox to be relatively benign.  (Trust me, I'll review others...)  Anytime someone leaves a religion they usually have less than kind things to say about the religion, but I find most people can also be sympathetic to a bad experience.  So this book is either polarizing or not, depending on how you digest stories like these.

Points of interest:
  • Her account on 9/11 was fascinating!  Without technology she nearly spent a whole day not knowing what had happened while the rest of the nation remained glued to their television sets.  Her grandfather actually bought a radio that day so that they could be updated.  That whole account was mind blowing.
  • She relays when hipsters became interested in Williamsburg, where she lived, and couldn't understand why they wanted to live there.  This was interesting and kind of tickled me.
  • The sexual education in her community was atrocious and it led to problems in a lot of women's, including Feldman's, early days of marriage in the most horrifying of ways.  I go a little more into that in the video...
Would I recommend this book and if so, to who? Recommendations may not be off the tip of my tongue, but anyone who is interested in cultural and religious studies should absolutely read this book!

Things to look out for: 

  • She uses yiddish words when quoting people or explaining things sporadically and does not typically explain them.  I'm well versed in Judaism and regardless a few went over my head.  If you're not as religiously literate you may find yourself looking up several words.
  • When reading other reviews and alleged accounts from people who knew her, there are a lot of mixed reviews and accusations of falsifying things.  I take a lot of it with a grain of salt as many things did represent aspects of what I knew of Hasidic Judaism and even fell in line with experiences of sub-sects of other religions that are extreme (I'm well read on these topics, for what it's worth).  And because religion is such an intense and emotional thing for people, naturally there will be criticism no matter what is written.  But, it would be remiss of me not to mention these findings with you.
Readability:  Pretty fast read!

Did I like it?  Yes, a lot.  Not necessary a new favorite book of all-time, but I did like the book!

Outfit Details:
Necklace- Ann Taylor
Dress- Hell Bunny
Brooch- Deer Arrow
Shoes- Chinese Laundry

Similar books I'd recommend: 
  • The Caged Virgin by Aayan Hirsi Ali: This is one of the books that I'm reading currently.  Ali was born in Somalia into a Muslim world and recounts her experiences in a pretty explosive way in the name of feminism and more.
  • Escape by Carolyn Jessop: This one has been sitting on my bookshelf for forever, so I can't fully recommend it (yet).  BUT several friends have read and discussed it with me and I believe this is a good one to bring up in this section as it's a book on escaping fundamental Mormonism.
  • The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Denise George: Not an escape book, but this book is a memoir on a specific historical time in Judaism.  It's about a woman who survived the holocaust, moved to America, and never even told her husband and kids her experiences!  After her death her family discovered journals that relayed her experiences.  I read this on a plane several years back and it was heartbreaking and a beautiful read all at once.
Wahoo for another book series AND video published!  I'm very much enjoying chatting about books on YouTube and am looking forward to exploring that more!  Right now I'm a little scattered and not yet working ahead of schedule, but eventually I want to get to a point where I can announce what books are coming up within a month or so in case any of y'all want to read along with!  Currently a rough estimate of what's next starting in mid-July are On Bowie by Rob Sheffield, Cults and New Religions: A Brief History by Cowan and Bromley, Words that Change Your Brain by Newberg and Waldman, and as I mentioned above, The Caged Virgin by Aayan Hirsi Ali.  Have a great start to your week!!
~Lauren-Blair Donovan


  1. Love your dress and high heel offers fashion dresses for girls and women.

  2. lookijng so cute in that dress :)

  3. The dress is lovely ;)
    Mónica Sors

  4. Such a lovely dress, you look amazing!
    Xo, Christianne

  5. LOVE this purple gingham dress on you! So cute with your heels. Sounds like a good read. I do enjoy reading about lives different than mine.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  6. thanks for sharing your thoughts

    xo, Monique | itsmonique

  7. Sounds like an interesting book! I love memoirs!

  8. First of all, you look gorgeous! Love this dress! And second, wow..I'm going to have to get this book. It sounds fascinating. Great work on the YouTube video as well! :)


  9. Beautiful gingham dress, Lauren. Couldn't you just live in this classic pattern from May to Labour Day (I definitely could :)).

    Wishing you a safe, fun filled and super happy trip!

    ♥ Jessica


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