Neither Here Nor There by Miriam Drori
Publication Date: May 17th 2014
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd
Genre: Fiction / Jewish Literature / Contemporary
Love in an exotic setting.
Esty’s life was laid out for her from birth. She would marry one of a handful of young men suggested to her and settle down to raise a large family in a tiny space within the closed community of her parents, near to and yet far from the modern world. But Esty has decided to risk all by escaping while she still can. Will she make it to the other side? Mark, who is struggling with his own life changes, hopes that Esty will find a way through her troubles. He is fast falling in love with her. Separately and together, in Jerusalem and London, Esty and Mark need to overcome many obstacles in their endeavour to achieve their dream.
So much more than a romance. A tale of transformation.
*** Note: I won this book in giveaway ***
Neither Here Nor There was simple romance that was made beautiful because of its setting in Jerusalem. Story revolved around Haredi Judaism, Esty’s struggle who left the orthodox ways, challenged its beliefs and lifestyle to live life of secular that can have meaning, freedom, and love. It was about struggle of transition in lifestyle; orthodox vs tradition, secular and extremism; strength and determination; going against the flow; understanding different culture and adopting the best in it.
What I Liked:
Book started with Esty leaving her parents’ home, culture she knew and grew up in to discover new life, life of secular, a life in which she can have freedom to make choices, actually live it and enjoy it rather than getting married, take care of house and giving birth every year. But it was never easy, she was in middle situation, Neither Here Nor There, after leaving her family. What challenges she will face in this in-between path? Will she able to cross it and transform into lifestyle of other side? Can she cut off with her family and friends? How her decision will affect her family? Will she discover new friends and true love? It was great to discover answers to all these Esty inner turmoil.
I believe she was lucky to find good people on her way towards new lifestyle. It wouldn’t be this easy for all.
I loved theme of this book. Author portrayed lifestyle and belief of orthodox people so well. It was not just about differences between orthodox, secular, and traditional but was about extremism. Being extremist is most dangerous and not just for orthodox but for secular as well and this controversial matter was well conveyed here.
Esty learned many things through her observation of secular world, different lifestyle and people she met. The doubts she had for what she was taught in schools and by community before leaving the old world proved right, she saw secular world is not that bad as she was taught, she could see how people in her community are following their belief not because they fear God or because they were pure and other are malign but because they want to please others in their community.
Every chapters ended with the question, doubts Esty and Mark had regarding their life and relationship that made me think about the situation, about community and their age-old beliefs, religion along with them. Characters turmoil, struggle and emotion was the central part of the story.
Romance was simple. It didn’t have that juicy drama or complicated issue we usually read in romance novel but it was nice to see both Esty and Mark evolve, taking baby steps in their relationship. They had some simple and realistic issues, Esty trying to adopt new world and Mark trying to go slow and let her grow out of her discomfort but I liked how they both made efforts to strengthen their bond.
Turns in the book were good. It made story interesting. I did guess those endings but it didn’t affect the ending. I liked the happy ending.
Why 4 Stars:
As I said things were comparatively easy for Esty. In real life there might be lot of problems and I was little annoyed character didn’t see things realistically. She should have expected the problems she faced and when her sister thought to follow her footstep she felt wrong about it! Come on, that’s clearly selfish.
Overall, it was interesting, insightful and unique but simple contemporary fiction that dealt with controversial subject. I recommend this book. It is short, fastpaced that you can finish in one sitting.
What do you Think about the book and my review? Have you read this book already? Have you read book dealing with controversial or religious issues? Which are they? Recommend me your favorite book in this theme or genre.