Jen Reviews: Unorthodox – Deborah Feldman

As a member of the strictly religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, Deborah Feldman grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. Yet in spite of her repressive upbringing, Deborah grew into an independent-minded young woman whose stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to imagine an alternative way of life among the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at nineteen and realized that, regardless of the obstacles, she would have to forge a path—for herself and her son—to happiness and freedom.

So I watched Unorthodox on Netflix, then reserved the book by Deborah Feldman on Overdrive. I finally got it this weekend and read it in an afternoon. Quite enjoyable, like reading someone’s diary. Both were entertaining, but the series is a VERY far cry from her actual experience, which I found disappointing. They took one or two key events and themes but otherwise omitted so many interesting pieces of her life. Read the book for sure, but don’t bother with the series.