For our May book club selection, our members are reading I Am Forbidden, a new novel by Anouk Markovits. Raised in France in a Satmar home (a sect of Hasidism), Markovits broke from the fold when she was nineteen to avoid an arranged marriage. I Am Forbidden shows its readers what life in a Hasidic society is life. We then find out what can happen when a young woman decides to live her life differently.
Here’s the synopsis from publisher Hogarth Press, a new imprint from Random House based on the ideals of Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf’s press of the same name:
Sweeping from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I Am Forbidden brings to life four generations of one Satmar family.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.
When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters makes force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.
Join our bloggers on May 8, when I Am Forbidden is released, as From Left to Write members discuss religion, family, marriage, or any of the themes from Markovits’ novel.
Pre-order your copy of I Am Forbidden. It will be one of the best novels you read this year.