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The Outside World
Synopses & Reviews
From the best-selling author of The Ladies Auxiliary, a hilarious new novel about two Orthodox Jewish families brought together by the marriage of their children.
Tzippy Goldman’s mother has been planning her wedding since before she was born. Her four younger sisters want her to marry the crown prince of Boro Park. But Tzippy, approaching spinsterhood at the age of twenty-two, has other ideas. Tzippy has been on one too many blind dates in the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriott. She is hungry for experience and longs to escape the suffocating expectations of religious stricture and romantic obligation.
Bryan Miller’s family lives in a liberal New Jersey community. Like Orthodox Jews anywhere in the world, they spend Saturdays in synagogue. And like suburbanites anywhere in the world, they wake up on Sundays and take their kids to Little League games and stop for pizza on the way home. But to Bryan, this middle road looks more and more like hypocrisy. He longs for conviction, for the relief of absolutes. To his parents’ bewilderment and horror, he trades in his beloved Yankees cap for the black fedora of the ultra-Orthodox.
In the courtship of Bryan and Tzippy, and in the progress of their highly freighted love affair and marriage, Tova Mirvis illuminates an insular world, where ancient and modern collide. With warmth, originality, and remarkable insight, she considers isolation and assimilation; the fervor of the zealot, the doubt of the truly faithful; the hunger for freedom, the hunger for God; and the retreat into traditionalism that has become a worldwide phenomenon among young people of all religions. The Outside World is a marvelous evocation of family and community, and of the struggle to be religious in a modern world.
"With a sharp and sympathetic eye for the oft neglected and misunderstood worlds of ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox Judaism, Mirvis (The Ladies Auxiliary) crafts a compelling narrative that delves into the lives of two families, each struggling with its own insecurities and difficulties. In this second novel, 22-year-old Orthodox Tzippy, born and bred in Jewish Brooklyn and insulated from secular society but secretly curious and eager to experience it, is barraged with meddlesome questions and with a slew of seemingly endless carbon-copy dates intended to facilitate her marriage to a reputable yeshiva boy before she turns into a spinster. Meanwhile, not too far away, Naomi and Joel, Modern Orthodox Jews, are straining to knock some sense into their suddenly ultra-religious son, Bryan (now calling himself by his Hebrew name Baruch), who has morphed from a head-banging, jeans-wearing, girl-chasing jock into a soul-searching, Talmud-studying, black-hat Jew interested only in immersing himself in God's laws and the Torah. When these two formerly separate worlds collide, parents, siblings and spouses must reflect on what their faith means to them and what to do when their beliefs unexpectedly diverge from those of loved ones. At times giddily humorous, at times stirring and sorrowful, Mirvis's insightful novel is packed with convincing detail, from descriptions of yarmulkes (fancifully embroidered or stolid black velvet) to the varieties of wigs worn by married ultra-Orthodox women. The characters' frequent use of distinctively Jewish terms and ideas gives the novel a foreign air, but the universal themes of growing up and choosing a fitting life to lead will resonate with readers of all faiths. Agent, Nicole Aragi. 7-city author tour. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the author of the bestselling "The Ladies Auxiliary" comes a hilarious comedy of manners about two Orthodox Jewish families brought together by the marriage of their children.
About the Author
Tova Mirvis grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. She received an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
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