The memoir of a woman who leaves her faith and her marriage and sets out to navigate the terrifying, liberating terrain of a newly mapless world
Born and raised in a tight-knit Orthodox Jewish family, Tova Mirvis committed herself to observing the rules and rituals prescribed by this way of life. After all, to observe was to be accepted and to be accepted was to be loved. She married a man from within the fold and quickly began a family. But over the years, her doubts became noisier than her faith, and at age forty she could no longer breathe in what had become a suffocating existence. Even though it would mean the loss of her friends, her community, and possibly even her family, Tova decides to leave her husband and her faith. After years of trying to silence the voice inside her that said she did not agree, did not fit in, did not believe, she strikes out on her own to discover what she does believe and who she really is. This will mean forging a new way of life not just for herself, but for her children, who are struggling with what the divorce and her new status as “not Orthodox” mean for them.
This is a memoir about what it means to decide to heed your inner compass at long last. To free the part of yourself that has been suppressed, even if it means walking away from the only life you’ve ever known. Honest and courageous, Tova takes us through her first year outside her marriage and community as she learns to silence her fears and seek adventure on her own path to happiness.
This was a fascinating account of one woman’s escape from a unhappy marriage, and a religion full of laws she no longer felt comfortable with.
I was drawn to this book as I’d been through a similar experience when I left my church community a few years ago. As I was reading this I was nodding my head, and also cringeing as I remember having had the same experiences as the author. I too went through the same feelings of relief and worry about not believing in the same way anymore. I remember worrying about how to behave if I encountered people in the street that I used to share Sunday mornings with.
I was equally fascinated and horrified by the author’s descriptions of all the laws Orthodox Jews have to keep, even the more liberal ones. It certainly opened my eyes to a whole new community of people I’d knew about but had never read about before.
It was beautifully written, and I recommend it if you enjoy faith memoirs.
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for my digital copy.