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Exodus: A Memoir

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Deborah Feldman, author of the explosive New York Times bestselling memoir Unorthodox, returns with an extraordinary follow-up that traces her new life as an independent young woman and single mother, and her search for an authentic and personal Jewish identity. Deborah Feldman, author of the explosive New York Times– bestselling memoir Unorthodox, returns with an extraordinary follow-up that traces her new life as an independent young woman and single mother, and her search for an authentic and personal Jewish identity.


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Deborah Feldman, author of the explosive New York Times bestselling memoir Unorthodox, returns with an extraordinary follow-up that traces her new life as an independent young woman and single mother, and her search for an authentic and personal Jewish identity. Deborah Feldman, author of the explosive New York Times– bestselling memoir Unorthodox, returns with an extraordinary follow-up that traces her new life as an independent young woman and single mother, and her search for an authentic and personal Jewish identity.

30 review for Exodus: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Frieda Vizel

    Full admission: although I marked this book as READ, I did not finish it. I just skipped through the fun parts, of Feldman with her various love interests. The book is actually well written, much more than the first book, and Feldman finally caught on to the modern memoirs confessional style, so she presents herself as introspective, honest and likable. But for all that, the book has a big problem: it lacks a central story. It is just a collage of experiences Feldman had in the year following Full admission: although I marked this book as READ, I did not finish it. I just skipped through the fun parts, of Feldman with her various love interests. The book is actually well written, much more than the first book, and Feldman finally caught on to the modern memoir’s confessional style, so she presents herself as introspective, honest and likable. But for all that, the book has a big problem: it lacks a central story. It is just a collage of experiences Feldman had in the year following the sale of her book, as she travelled the world and went to a hypnotist and dated and shopped, etc. You get it; a person's daily going ons. Some parts are interesting, the writing is good, but the lack of a central plot makes it unreadable. Sometimes when I tried to read it I felt the author was pandering to the Jewish world’s interest in the story of someone who left orthodoxy and found their Jewish roots, in a way that felt manipulative.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    When I read Deborah Feldman's first memoir Unorthodox I thought it was written pretty well, until about half to two-thirds of the way in. Then it kind of jumped up to hyperspeed, got vague and just kind of ended. To me it felt like she'd probably worked on that main material really well and then had to end it, to complete the book. I later learned from mutual acquaintances that something like that had in fact happened; Feldman had workshopped the first part of the book in college. Be that as it When I read Deborah Feldman's first memoir Unorthodox I thought it was written pretty well, until about half to two-thirds of the way in. Then it kind of jumped up to hyperspeed, got vague and just kind of ended. To me it felt like she'd probably worked on that main material really well and then had to end it, to complete the book. I later learned from mutual acquaintances that something like that had in fact happened; Feldman had workshopped the first part of the book in college. Be that as it may, a hit requires a sophomore effort, and Exodus is hers. She chose the genre of memoir literature once again which is unfortunate, because the stories we accumulate in our first quarter century generally provide more material then the ones we gather over the next two years. And it shows. In Exodus I could only surmise that some kind of looming contract driven deadline was forcing her to complete a manuscript. Exodus is the story of what Deborah Feldman has been up to since Unorthodox was released. So what has she been up to? She moved to New England. She visited a hokey shaman. She complains that she is forever tied to her ex husband, who may well complain that he is forever tied to his ex wife, if he were to write his memoir. She made a pilgrimage to Hungary where she admired the trees, the paprika, and how local yokels treated her like a celebrity from America. She failed to feel like she fit into the Southern family of a college friend. She had sex with Germans. She reflected about Jewish identity and pined for her grandmother, whom she now sees as less of a shaved Hasidic bubby, and more of an elegant European survivor with a secular legal name who isn't really Hasidic. (This is not necessarily an exaggeration - many contemporary scions of Hasidic families were not Hasidic or very Hasidic before WWII; this process of the Hasidization of many survivors who flocked to rebbes and rebuilt Hasidic communities, of Hungarian speakers who produced Yiddish speaking grandchildren, should be told.) Some random observations. Exodus seems to assume prior knowledge of Unorthodox. While she does recap a little bit, she refers to details which the reader is apparently expected to understand, and I'm not sure this should have been assumed. She really seems to love describing trees. This is not a bad thing. I honestly think she should write about what she loves, and in the hands of a great writer - well anything is delicious to read about. Think about Pat Conroy who can write about crabs (the eating kind) for three pages. I don't care for travel books generally (perhaps why I wasn't digging this so much) but Myla Goldberg wrote a little travel book about Prague - and she made me care! She made me love it! So, there's that. Some inappropriate talk about gypsies. Nothing horrific, but let's just say I think she should know better than to just repeat whatever random Hungarians tell her about gypsies. Feldman definitely tries to open up more. She no longer has anyone to blame, so the book doesn't fall into that trap. Although I respect her right to privacy, considering that she is a single mother on a daily basis, one would have liked to know a little about what her life is like with her son, which surely is a part of her story since Unorthodox. She headed her chapters with random but suggestive Hebrew terms, alluding I guess to her interest in her Jewish heritage. She muses about the meaning of Jewishness and compares herself to Barbra Streisand. There were occasional beautiful, easy turns of phrase that I definitely enjoyed. And that is Exodus, at least the Exodus which I read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I was really excited to find out why happened to Deborah Feldman after she left the Satmar community. I had expected this book to pick up where the last one left off, to learn about the difficult (or perhaps not?) transition into secular life, about the challenges she faced. Instead, this book mostly details the trip to Europe she took to learn about her grandmother's roots. While that was interesting, the themes got a bit repetitive. "Oh, there aren't any Jews here? There's still anti-semitism I was really excited to find out why happened to Deborah Feldman after she left the Satmar community. I had expected this book to pick up where the last one left off, to learn about the difficult (or perhaps not?) transition into secular life, about the challenges she faced. Instead, this book mostly details the trip to Europe she took to learn about her grandmother's roots. While that was interesting, the themes got a bit repetitive. "Oh, there aren't any Jews here? There's still anti-semitism even though secular/Christian people tell me there isn't?" Well...yeah. It's true, but it came up all over the place and got really tedious. The other thing is that this book isn't a cohesive narrative. It felt to me like each chapter was a separate essay that she then compiled to make this book. That's fine, but I'm confused a little about the timeline. When did these things happen? Was there just one trip to Europe that felt (to me) like four or five? It's hard to say. Also: I understand that it's a free world and so on, but the author seems to have had a lot of sexual/romantic encounters since leaving the Satmars. Now, this could seem like more in a short time because, again, no idea what the timeline was, but she mentioned so many men throughout the book. The weirdest bit was when (view spoiler)[she asked some of her German boyfriends to pretend they were Nazis and she was a Jew during WWII (hide spoiler)] . It was bizarre and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take away from this, except that she is very confused and hasn't quite come to terms with herself and her history. It was another interesting look into her life, but I still wish I had more information about her personal struggles leaving the Satmars. A few things are mentioned offhand (like the death threats and her insomnia), but I want to know what obstacles she fought to get to where she is now. Obviously, leaving was a big one, but then what happened? I feel like there's a big gap in the timing and I'm missing something. I guess this is always going to happen and Feldman is, of course, free to leave parts of her life private, but it's still frustrating! Not a bad read, but again, not quite what I expected, and a little too disjointed for more than a 3 star rating.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    In thinking of how to review this book, I was concerned that there would be a *chance* Deborah could read it. Goodreads is an increasingly popular site and she is human. Surely she has nights where she sips coffee or wine and reviews what the internet has to say about her contributions to literature. I feel like she's been through enough and doesn't need my judgement added to the mix. To add some context; I thoroughly enjoyed Unorthodox! To be fair, like another reviewer said, I read Unorthodox In thinking of how to review this book, I was concerned that there would be a *chance* Deborah could read it. Goodreads is an increasingly popular site and she is human. Surely she has nights where she sips coffee or wine and reviews what the internet has to say about her contributions to literature. I feel like she's been through enough and doesn't need my judgement added to the mix. To add some context; I thoroughly enjoyed Unorthodox! To be fair, like another reviewer said, I read Unorthodox in order to learn more about Hasidic extremism. It was fascinating! When I picked up Exodus I eagerly expected more of the same. That being said, I didn't like this book at all. In fact, towards the end, I began to skip over parts and sigh and roll my eyes. She name drops, makes frequent sweeping generalizations, and is abrasive. I fully GET why she'd be abrasive, but it became obnoxious and intolerable. I also couldn't help but wonder where her son was during all of the travels she describes in this book (remember the part where I said she doesn't need more judgement?). In reference to sweeping generalizations that induced eye-rolling in me, I cite the following example: "I would learn soon that Germans are perpetually hungry, whether or not it's mealtime" (p. 237). Are you kidding me?! Did I really just read that?! That sentence about sums up the experience of reading this book. The book felt self-gratifying, like an obnoxious exercise in impression management. So, there you have it: One judgmental review to add to the pool of judgement this poor girl has already lived through.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    girlfriend's second book was due so she kind of just wrote down everything she did in the past year and turned it in

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I only made it 20 pages into this one. A memoir about a womans loss of faith (here, that involved leaving her marriage and her Hasidic Jewish community) should be right up my street, but I had trouble connecting with Feldmans voice. I didnt sense honest wrestling, just hipster angst. (Should I bother trying her previous memoir, Unorthodox?) These two passages might help you see why I bristled at her style: Let me be clear: my life, right now, is amazing. I have everything I ever dreamed of, and I I only made it 20 pages into this one. A memoir about a woman’s loss of faith (here, that involved leaving her marriage and her Hasidic Jewish community) should be right up my street, but I had trouble connecting with Feldman’s voice. I didn’t sense honest wrestling, just hipster angst. (Should I bother trying her previous memoir, Unorthodox?) These two passages might help you see why I bristled at her style: “Let me be clear: my life, right now, is amazing. I have everything I ever dreamed of, and I never forget just how lucky I am to have achieved it. But my feelings have been failing to catch on to the changes in my life; in some ways my brain is still stuck in the past.” “I had gone six months without a full night’s sleep when I stopped into my favorite coffee shop one morning in March of 2013 to perk myself up with a soy latte before I picked Isaac up from school. … As I sat down to wait for my coffee, I recognized an acquaintance, Robert, a local naturopath.” (and then she meets a sleep doctor/shaman and makes an appointment)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gillian

    Such a poor book and extremely disappointing. Unorthodox was so good. This book does not follow at all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Because I was so intrigued by Unorthodox, of course I had to read the follow-up. I am pretty fascinated by people who decide to leave restrictive environments and make their way in the great big world. How do they find the courage to leave? How to they make it on their own? How do they handle the identity crisis that is bound to result from their decisions? From the other Goodreads reviews, it sounds like many readers were disappointed with this memoir. In comparison to Unorthodox, Exodus can Because I was so intrigued by Unorthodox, of course I had to read the follow-up. I am pretty fascinated by people who decide to leave restrictive environments and make their way in the great big world. How do they find the courage to leave? How to they make it on their own? How do they handle the identity crisis that is bound to result from their decisions? From the other Goodreads reviews, it sounds like many readers were disappointed with this memoir. In comparison to Unorthodox, Exodus can feel disjointed and directionless. After leaving her marriage and her conservative Hasidic community, Feldman feels lost and rootless. So she wanders. She goes to San Francisco. She goes to Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake City. New Orleans. She criss-crosses the Atlantic several times, visiting France, Spain, and Germany. Sometimes she looks for other Jews, other times she scrabbles to find some remnant of her family's history or names carved into cobblestones. Sometimes she dives into a romance with a cute German guy whose grandmother kissed the hand of Hitler. So I guess I get what many readers didn't like about this book, but I see what Feldman is trying to do, too. Her whole mission to find herself feels deeper and more meaningful to me than it does in some other memoirs with similar trajectories. She's still young, and she has been through so much in her life. Her family's history is very complicated. She wants to leave her insular religious community, but she can't reject--nor does she want to reject--her Jewishness. She's still searching. Maybe she'll always be searching. If Feldman writes a third memoir, I would read it!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peg

    Book was disappointing. I was expecting to read more about the author's and son's breaking away from their Hassidic society and enjoying a new life in New England. Instead, I found the book to be a treatise on the world's antisemitism. Felt the author discriminated against just about ever nation or person she encountered.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Hm. This follow-up to Unorthodox is an introspective journey-type memoir in which Ms. Feldman sort of tries to connect with her European heritage as well as her Americanness. There were sections I really loved: the short part about Deborah the prophet, the author's trip to Hungary and her attempt to understand and relate to her Grandmother, and the parts about her convert friend. But I also spent a huge amount of time listening to her and feeling annoyed. Despite how fascinated I am with her Hm. This follow-up to Unorthodox is an introspective journey-type memoir in which Ms. Feldman sort of tries to connect with her European heritage as well as her Americanness. There were sections I really loved: the short part about Deborah the prophet, the author's trip to Hungary and her attempt to understand and relate to her Grandmother, and the parts about her convert friend. But I also spent a huge amount of time listening to her and feeling annoyed. Despite how fascinated I am with her story and how much I respect what she's doing, I've just never been able to really *like* Deborah Feldman. She makes these misguided snap judgements about huge groups of people (Southerners who are really Texans, Germans, "rednecks", Norwegians, people who listen to audiobooks (this last one having a nice ironic meta effect when read by her in the audio edition of the book)) and then she exploits stereotypes to support her flat characterizations. As in her previous book, I thought some scenarios seemed exaggerated, especially the more violent episodes. For example, Ms. Feldman has personally witnessed black men being beaten to nearly to death TWICE in her short life. Coincidence? Or a love of drama and the tendency to use (other people's) race to make a point? She is also obnoxiously self-absorbed - more so than most memoirists, and that's saying something. Her self-absorption and tendency to exaggerate make it hard for me to take her seriously when everywhere she goes she discovers (or perceives) raging antisemitism. I'm not sure how much to blame on her Hasidic upbringing and how much to blame on her innate personality, but either way: by the end of this book I was ready for a break from this author.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Feldman is a fantastic writer. She puts words and thoughts together as skillfully as someone way past her years and experience. I would read anything she writes. And I look forward to her next book. Exodus is a little painful to read on some levels. After all, she is still in her late twenties. It seems like she's trying to live life very quickly and fully, but she does come from unique circumstances. You sense the pendulum swinging in her life and you wonder where it will stop--or even if it Feldman is a fantastic writer. She puts words and thoughts together as skillfully as someone way past her years and experience. I would read anything she writes. And I look forward to her next book. Exodus is a little painful to read on some levels. After all, she is still in her late twenties. It seems like she's trying to live life very quickly and fully, but she does come from unique circumstances. You sense the pendulum swinging in her life and you wonder where it will stop--or even if it will. Can I guess that her next book will be about mothering? I hope that it will. I think she must value her privacy in her everyday life, because she has put so much of her out there--literally laying herself naked. Can you feel the pendulum swinging? Bother her fragility and strength shine through in this book. You can't help but hold your breath and wish that she finds her equilibrium.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tal179

    Powerful. Exodus is a deeply moving, painful tale of self discovery and transformation. I am aware that Deborah Feldman's actions and books are very controversial, and people claim that she has lied and left out important details... While I could do research and doubt her writings, I'm not interested in doing so. I choose to accept it at face value because I feel its veracity, firstly because I recognize so much truth in it, in terms of both Orthodox law and mentality, and secondly because it is Powerful. Exodus is a deeply moving, painful tale of self discovery and transformation. I am aware that Deborah Feldman's actions and books are very controversial, and people claim that she has lied and left out important details... While I could do research and doubt her writings, I'm not interested in doing so. I choose to accept it at face value because I feel its veracity, firstly because I recognize so much truth in it, in terms of both Orthodox law and mentality, and secondly because it is so honest (at times uncomfortably so). I could be wrong, but it doesn't matter. I don't know whether everything is absolutely accurate, but the struggle and journey feels incredibly real and the writing makes me feel the pain and conflict brewing inside her. This book is so intense, so beautifully written, that it touches the soul. I identify with it as a woman, as a Jew, and as one trying to find one's place in this incredibly complex world. Deborah Feldman breaks from her religious roots and immerses into a new world--both the past of her ancestors in Europe and the present of her secular surroundings in America--in the process to reach deep within herself, heal what is broken, and understand herself within this new context. In the process she breaks major transgressions of Jewish law (pretty much all of them) and reading about it made me feel slightly scandalized because as a practicing Jew it feels inherently wrong, and I felt disappointed not with her but with her family and community: the way they raised and rejected her was so unhealthy that she felt the need to throw away all she had been taught in order to heal. This proves my long standing belief that the more parents force their way of life on their children and repress their ability to express themselves, the more violently they will rebel and reject their teachings. Thankfully I was raised in a healthy home where I was shown the right way but allowed to make my own mistakes and question things and be understood, and that allowed me to accept and appreciate my religion. Put in her position, I can't say I would be able to do so, and therefore I don't feel that I am allowed to judge her for her actions. I appreciate and sympathize with Deborah's struggle to find herself, to reconstruct a world for herself, physically, emotionally, spiritually, morally, and sexually. She travels great distances, both literally and figuratively, in order to reconcile her past with her present, her beliefs with her actions, and to move forward from the injustices she suffered. When she visits Europe, Germany specifically, she feels rage at the unspeakable horrors done to the Jews during the Holocaust... I generally feel that reading about anything remotely related to the Holocaust is unbearably painful, but she does it in a way that evokes raw emotion with being gruesome and scarring. I appreciate that I was able to read about it and feel the pain of my people without having to close the book and stop reading. Exodus is a truly intense and moving reading experience. Recommended, but not for the easily scandalized or faint of heart.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I loved Deborah Feldman's first memoir Unorthodox, where she described growing up in the Hasidic Jewish community and making the decision to leave. Exodus picks up shortly after Unorthodox ends. She has to work out how to support herself and her son and make the HUGE adjustment to life outside the rigid and secluded Orthodox Jewish community. Feldman is also trying to work out how she can connect with her Jewish heritage and religion outside of the Hasidic community. In order to work through a I loved Deborah Feldman's first memoir Unorthodox, where she described growing up in the Hasidic Jewish community and making the decision to leave. Exodus picks up shortly after Unorthodox ends. She has to work out how to support herself and her son and make the HUGE adjustment to life outside the rigid and secluded Orthodox Jewish community. Feldman is also trying to work out how she can connect with her Jewish heritage and religion outside of the Hasidic community. In order to work through a lot of her issues she travels across the US and decides to trace her Grandmother's roots in Europe - starting in Hungary where her Grandmother was born to the concentration camps in Germany that her Grandmother survived. Feldman discovers a lot on her European journey, unfortunately one thing she finds is that there is still a lot of anti-Semitism there. She struggles the most in Germany thinking about all that happened to the Jews there because of the Nazis. Incredibly though she also falls in love with a German man who's grandparents were Nazis! Overall, I think this book was almost as good as Unorthodox. The story is not strictly chronological, but it works. She walks through some of the journeys she took to discover herself after her Exodus and also explores her family's Holocaust history and shows just how much that affected her growing up and still today. My only complaint was there was some definite weirdness/awkwardness with her relationship with the German guy who's grandparents were Nazis - she was very conflicted about their relationship even though he was ashamed of his family's history. There were a few weird/uncomfortable sexual scenes that I did not need to know about with him. But, overall it was a really good book and I definitely enjoyed it. I look forward to her future work.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susanna

    I didn't find Exodus quite as interesting as I remember Feldman's first memoir, Unorthodox. But then, I read Feldman's first book mostly to learn more about the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and with this book she's mostly exploring her personal journey after leaving the Satmar sect. Still, it's beautifully written and an engrossing read. There's Feldman's introspection, of course, as she negotiates her identity and lifestyle after leaving the insular community in which she grew up, but we I didn't find Exodus quite as interesting as I remember Feldman's first memoir, Unorthodox. But then, I read Feldman's first book mostly to learn more about the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and with this book she's mostly exploring her personal journey after leaving the Satmar sect. Still, it's beautifully written and an engrossing read. There's Feldman's introspection, of course, as she negotiates her identity and lifestyle after leaving the insular community in which she grew up, but we also learn a lot more about her family's background during the Holocaust as well as gain troubling glimpses of how Jewish community, identity, and memory remain (or don't) in contemporary Europe. Pretty much my only real issue with the book was its lack of organization. The content seems to be a mishmash of Feldman's experiences, mostly after she left the community but some connected back to her childhood as well. Her narrative moves non-linearly, and it just wasn't very clear where exactly she was going with this book. However, as with her first memoir, I admire her openness with personal details and willingness to share her life. Disclaimer: I received my copy of this book for free through the First Look program in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mottel

    When recounting the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, the Bible recounts not one, but rather a series of 42 journeys. Why? Because no Exodus, no journey of personal self-transformation, is complete in a single step. Rather, as we seek to discover who we are, we are faced with the realization that there is always more to do, always a chance to grow deeper. In her own "Exdous" Deborah Feldman seems to mistake telling us about her travel itinerary with telling us about her personal When recounting the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, the Bible recounts not one, but rather a series of 42 journeys. Why? Because no Exodus, no journey of personal self-transformation, is complete in a single step. Rather, as we seek to discover who we are, we are faced with the realization that there is always more to do, always a chance to grow deeper. In her own "Exdous" Deborah Feldman seems to mistake telling us about her travel itinerary with telling us about her personal journey. Even as she searches to form a new Jewish identity, she looks to only the broadest, must superficial strokes. When she wants to teach her son about Jewish life, she plays Fiddler on the Roof. When she looks to show others that she is a Jew, she makes jokes about her nose and talks of bagels and schmear. The people she meets are stereotypes - Texans have sun-leathered skin, people from Hungary look like they could come directly from a Vampire movie. It's cliched and trite. By the time we get to her sexual fetishism of Germans in her personal Nazi-Jewish role-playing, the book is already running on fumes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Assuming that each of us has a story to tell, it is important to note that there is usually only one story. This is a perfect example. Unorthodox was enjoyable and readable (in spite of all the controversy I read here about it's truth or lack thereof). A memoir is just that, a memory. So - who am I to say it is real or not. That being said, readers do not need to read EVERY memory and this book really did not need to be written. Journaling her self-awareness and eventual acceptance of herself Assuming that each of us has a story to tell, it is important to note that there is usually only one story. This is a perfect example. Unorthodox was enjoyable and readable (in spite of all the controversy I read here about it's truth or lack thereof). A memoir is just that, a memory. So - who am I to say it is real or not. That being said, readers do not need to read EVERY memory and this book really did not need to be written. Journaling her self-awareness and eventual acceptance of herself would have been sufficient. Publishing it is self-aggrandizing. Did not come away enlightened or better for the read - although I think Ms. Feldman comes away both from her experience of writing this down. Mostly, I am happy her vagina works ;)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz Simmons

    Ugh. What a disappointment. This is the classic situation that I've seen a million times. Someone writes a great first memoir. Then they get a book deal for another one and just don't have much to say or haven't figured out how to say it yet. Feldman's first book, "Unorthodox" was fascinating and well written. Exodus was just... well, it was kind of boring. I wish her the best on her journey to heal herself, but I don't want to read about her (mostly uneventful and unrevealing) therapy sessions. Ugh. What a disappointment. This is the classic situation that I've seen a million times. Someone writes a great first memoir. Then they get a book deal for another one and just don't have much to say or haven't figured out how to say it yet. Feldman's first book, "Unorthodox" was fascinating and well written. Exodus was just... well, it was kind of boring. I wish her the best on her journey to heal herself, but I don't want to read about her (mostly uneventful and unrevealing) therapy sessions. I almost made it to the end, but stopped with about 30 pages left to go because I just didn't care anymore. Read "Unorthodox." Skip "Exodus."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura Janeiro

    It's hard to stop reading once the book takes rythm. She picks up the story approx where she left it in the previous book but in another aspect. She went from being a daughter of a closed community to becoming a young woman fighting for her independence who managed to take the final leap of escape. In this book, much more intimate, she recounts her efforts, no longer of a child, to create her own place in a world that she does not know and in which she lacks a common past with others. Almost like It's hard to stop reading once the book takes rythm. She picks up the story approx where she left it in the previous book but in another aspect. She went from being a daughter of a closed community to becoming a young woman fighting for her independence who managed to take the final leap of escape. In this book, much more intimate, she recounts her efforts, no longer of a child, to create her own place in a world that she does not know and in which she lacks a common past with others. Almost like a Martian who were looking to establishing here. The process has everything human that is in the conversion into an adult, where childhood belongs to another world, other rules. Only in this case everything seems more extreme, and because of this, more intense. This individuation is realized by choosing her path seeking knowledge that expands her community of origin to allow her to feel part of the world as a whole, to choose the niche to which she belongs not because of who she was supposed to be, but for who she really is. Only conscious, open-eyed choice makes sense and she has to permanently renewed it to continuing growing A courageous search that we all are suppose to do at some point in our lives, but that not all of us will doing, and in which conformity has no place. This is not a tale of facts but feelings and emotions, and healing. And the story finish with the best of the ends.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    Exodus is the story of a young woman leaving her Orthodox Jewish life. The book takes place after her first memoir, Unorthodox, which I have not read. This book really made me want to go back and read that one. This book is basically a collection of different experiences that Deborah Feldman has one she escapes from her religion. I kind of wish that there is been a little bit more of a central story because the way that the book was broken up was jarring and made it hard to get into the book. Exodus is the story of a young woman leaving her Orthodox Jewish life. The book takes place after her first memoir, Unorthodox, which I have not read. This book really made me want to go back and read that one. This book is basically a collection of different experiences that Deborah Feldman has one she escapes from her religion. I kind of wish that there is been a little bit more of a central story because the way that the book was broken up was jarring and made it hard to get into the book. The book almost feels like a collection of disparate parts instead of a full story, which took me out of the story. This book is mostly about Deborah trying to make a new life outside of her religion and community that she is always known. She is getting used to many different things and having a lot of different experiences. She does many things to try and get her new life on track and they don't always work out. Again I think they disconnect between the various stories that she tells made only an okay experience for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jane De vries

    I would have given this a higher rating but I believed it was more fiction than memoir. How could the author do all this traveling when she had the responsibility of a child back in the USA? A child which her former husband surely would have wanted to keep? Memory is a funny thing. You add on and detract from what really happened. Perhaps this was the case with this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Interesting follow-up to "Unorthodox." Review coming in late March...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I received this from a First Reads giveaway. The author expresses her emotional trauma honestly and the murky path to self acceptance.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    I really liked this, but not as cohesive a story line as Unorthodox. Read more like short stories than a memoir. She is a beautiful writer and I look forward to a long literary career.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chava

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Lately, when I read memoir, my main points of evaluation are "Why should I care?" and "What can I learn and apply to my own life?" For this book, the answer to both questions was negative. I'm amazed how the author was able to travel the world and leave her son with her ex-husband or babysitters, especially when she "escaped" the Hasidic community. So I don't know how she allowed her son to go back into that world, or how they allowed a child to be with her. The book also seems to be out of Lately, when I read memoir, my main points of evaluation are "Why should I care?" and "What can I learn and apply to my own life?" For this book, the answer to both questions was negative. I'm amazed how the author was able to travel the world and leave her son with her ex-husband or babysitters, especially when she "escaped" the Hasidic community. So I don't know how she allowed her son to go back into that world, or how they allowed a child to be with her. The book also seems to be out of sequence - he tells about going to Hungary and then tells of being in Germany much later in the book, even though it was on the same trip to Europe. In some ways I do admire her bravery - she put herself in uncomfortable situations (confronting the Holocaust and antisemitism) and really going out of her comfort zone (travelling cross country, becoming involved with someone from New Orleans and someone German, living in a house in New England), but this book is unfortunately tainted by the inaccuracies of her first book. Feldman does have a nice style - interesting descriptions of wherever she is, and it is fascinating that someone who grow up so sheltered was able to expand their horizons so far.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diane S.

    This was a little uneven. I appreciated reading more about the authors exploration and journey into the secular world but I didnt feel the connections she made - what I mean was why these people who she meets everywhere invite her to travel with them, stay in their house. Also shes very fixated on whether or not someone is jewish. Didnt she just learn that a person is a person is a person? This was a little uneven. I appreciated reading more about the authors exploration and journey into the secular world but I didn’t feel the connections she made - what I mean was why these people who she meets everywhere invite her to travel with them, stay in their house. Also she’s very fixated on whether or not someone is jewish. Didn’t she just learn that a person is a person is a person?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Stolar

    I read this right after reading Feldman's previous memoir, Unorthodox because I was eager to see if some of the questions left unanswered in that book were answered in this one. I gave Unorthodox 4 stars, which was generous -- it's probably really only worth 3, but I'm easier on memoirs because you can't really argue with someone's experience of their own life. I was hoping that some issues would be explored in greater depth, or we would at least see how Ms. Feldman was able to establish her I read this right after reading Feldman's previous memoir, Unorthodox because I was eager to see if some of the questions left unanswered in that book were answered in this one. I gave Unorthodox 4 stars, which was generous -- it's probably really only worth 3, but I'm easier on memoirs because you can't really argue with someone's experience of their own life. I was hoping that some issues would be explored in greater depth, or we would at least see how Ms. Feldman was able to establish her life after leaving her community. Unfortunately, this book does not do that. Instead, it is rambling and disjointed, and doesn't give much insight at all into the author's life. A large segment of the book is devoted to her traveling to Hungary to see where her grandmother lived, but this seems rather pointless to me as a reader -- she has no great insight or revelation. Nothing shocking is discovered. I'm sure it was meaningful to her as a person, but I don't know why it was included in the memoir. Likewise, most of her travels within the U.S. don't enlighten us much and aren't even particularly interesting. I did, however, keep wondering just where her son was while she did all this traveling -- was he with his father? If so, how did that work? The Hassidim are generally not willing to grant religious divorces, and certainly not willing to relinquish custody of a child, so I was always left wondering just how this worked -- how did she convince her ex-husband and his family and community to allow her to take her son, and how did it work if he was constantly going back to the community? Also, at the end of the last book, she indicates that she traveled to many places, but ultimately, Manhattan felt like home, and that was where she lived. In this book, Manhattan is too crowded and she moves someplace in remote New England (although she indicates that she jaunts off to NYC in short periods of time, so I don't know where, exactly, she lived -- it couldn't have been where I had guessed if NYC was close enough to go in for the evening). But, I know from her web page that she now lives in Berlin, so I don't know what happened to the angst regarding urban life and why rural New England wasn't the answer, after all. And again, how is it that she was able to leave not just Brooklyn, but the United States with her son? I also wonder if she kept up the relationship with the German man she writes about in this book -- it is not at all clear. The author has clearly been traumatized by the events of her childhood, most especially the abandonment by her mother and the inability of her father to have any sort of meaningful relationship with her. Knowing that, though, doesn't make it any easier to read about her life as she navigates it while still trying to deal with her trauma.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    I have not read Unorthodox and had not heard of Feldman until I picked up this book. I was very interested in the parts about her upbringing and how/why she left that community. So maybe I should have read Unorthodox instead. This one was more about her travels as she tried to find an identity for herself. She feels rootless, so perhaps it is appropriate that the narrative feels that way also, but it doesn't make for particularly good reading. (I also kept wondering where she got the money for I have not read Unorthodox and had not heard of Feldman until I picked up this book. I was very interested in the parts about her upbringing and how/why she left that community. So maybe I should have read Unorthodox instead. This one was more about her travels as she tried to find an identity for herself. She feels rootless, so perhaps it is appropriate that the narrative feels that way also, but it doesn't make for particularly good reading. (I also kept wondering where she got the money for all that traveling.) But it is informative, and reasonably well-written, though I found myself increasingly not caring much for Feldman as it went on. Perhaps if she told the story ten or twenty years later with more perspective on life to draw on, it would be better.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Campbell

    I admittedly preferred Ms. Feldman's first memoir. I had read that she did some "embroidering" especially in this book, and got some flack for it. That didn't bother me. I think the main points, ideas, thoughts... & basic situations were both what she experienced and felt...during her journey, which was both literal and figurative,...in New Orleans, & in several places in Europe, including, of course, Germany. Yes, she was dealing with some experimentation, trying to find her authentic, I admittedly preferred Ms. Feldman's first memoir. I had read that she did some "embroidering" especially in this book, and got some flack for it. That didn't bother me. I think the main points, ideas, thoughts... & basic situations were both what she experienced and felt...during her journey, which was both literal and figurative,...in New Orleans, & in several places in Europe, including, of course, Germany. Yes, she was dealing with some experimentation, trying to find her authentic, new self, yet all the while feeling her Jewish roots & experience,too,but in the modern world: (And, there were several shockingly sad reminders of the anti-Jewish sentiments that remain in some areas in Europe...within a few too many Europeans.) Deborah F. has great potential as a good literary writer. Her style is inner-directed & in some ways "diary-like"...(and I started by saying I thought her first memoir was the better one)...but this, too, drew me in. I would read more from her. (I can not relate to the background in which she was raised..... except in the sense of being horrified for her (or any girl or woman) that "being Jewish" could mean living within a "sect" or branch as anti-human rights as SOME of the Hasidic or extreme Orthodox are. For me, coming from a secular American Jewish background, it's difficult to appreciate an extremely different culture. But Deborah F. & many like her, are witness to the inhumane and sometimes downright crazy aspects of extremism, whether they come from an ultra orthodox sect such as the Satmars, or orthodox/fundamentalist/extremist groups in any or all of the religions. So, some of her search for finding her real self.. and experimentation, travel & lifestyle seems worthy and brave to me. .I see a novel and perhaps many more personal essay style books in her future.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This is Deborah Feldman's second memoir delving into the secular world after growing up in a strict Satmar Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In her first memoir called "Unorthodox," Ms. Feldman describes in detail her dysfunctional family, lifestyle and extreme loneliness. Now, after having broken away from religious life and everything and everyone she has ever known, she finds herself living with her son in New England, writing, healing and most importantly struggling to find This is Deborah Feldman's second memoir delving into the secular world after growing up in a strict Satmar Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In her first memoir called "Unorthodox," Ms. Feldman describes in detail her dysfunctional family, lifestyle and extreme loneliness. Now, after having broken away from religious life and everything and everyone she has ever known, she finds herself living with her son in New England, writing, healing and most importantly struggling to find acceptance and love. Deborah wants her son Isaac to grow up with stability and positive self esteem but she finds it difficult to be that role model when guilt, self doubt and uncertainty follow her every move. Finding her passion in the arts and enjoying new friends and travel for the first time in her life begins the process of moving forward to discover the life she is meant to lead. Relationships are difficult and memories are becoming blurred as her obsession to walk in her grandmothers footsteps through Europe and the horrors of the Holocaust. I think Ms. Feldman is a sensitive, poetic writer and has done an enormous amount of difficult self discovery. There is no doubt to read Unorthodox first for the full effect and meaning of Exodus. This memoir is less of a page turner but its honesty and life questions give the reader much to think about.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    It's hard to pick a single rating, so I settled on 3 stars. There were parts of this book that I found irritating, and there were other parts that I found extremely moving. The author is obviously a very skilled writer, and this is a well-written book. The parts where she is reflecting on herself and/or allowing herself to be moved by her experiences, I found to be incredibly moving and thought-provoking. But during the parts where she is focusing on other people, I found to be irritating. She It's hard to pick a single rating, so I settled on 3 stars. There were parts of this book that I found irritating, and there were other parts that I found extremely moving. The author is obviously a very skilled writer, and this is a well-written book. The parts where she is reflecting on herself and/or allowing herself to be moved by her experiences, I found to be incredibly moving and thought-provoking. But during the parts where she is focusing on other people, I found to be irritating. She tends to be unapologetically judgmental, something I find irritating anyway, and in the context of this work I find to be hypocritical. She's trying to figure herself out, but she expects consistency and enlightened awareness from everyone else. Ultimately, Exodus is what a memoir should be: honest and reflective of the author, and it's eloquently written to boot. I don't know if I would recommend it to someone else, but I don't regret the time I spent reading it.

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