My wish: that I could somehow coerce my family and friends to drop everything and read this book. The setting reminds me of every church I've ever attended (and the rules endemic to them). But the book I'm talking about—The Outside World, by Tova Mirvis—is not about Christianity. It's a novel about two Orthodox Jewish families—one in Brooklyn, the other in Laurelwood, New Jersey—who are brought together in a comedic clash by the marriage of their two children.
The Goldman family is in crisis. The eldest daughter, Tzippy, is a spinster at twenty-two. Shayna, the mother, is desperate for white chiffon and delicate lace and wedding cake; it's all she's dreamed about since Tzippy was born. And what will the neighbors think of her if she can't get her daughter a husband? Tzippy, on the other hand, isn't sure she wants romantic obligation. She hasn't liked any of the 42 boys who have courted her over Diet Cokes in the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel.
Not far away, Naomi and Joel Miller have a national emergency of their own. Their son, Bryan, whom they sent to a yeshiva in Israel after he graduated from high school, has come home—and behold his transformation! He insists on being called by his Hebrew name, Baruch. No longer a basketball-toting, girl-crazy kid, he returns spouting "Rabbi this and Rabbi that" and admonishing his mother to use dish racks in her non-kosher porcelain sink. Naomi is not alone in her exasperation. Ilana, Baruch's younger sister, greets him at the airport as she's always done, throwing her arms around him, but he pushes her away. "It's assur," he says. Forbidden. Ilana rages that things can shift so rapidly. What does her family believe and why?
Baruch and Tzippy finally meet, of their own accord, in ...1
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