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Hush Paperback – February 28, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 297 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–After six long years, Gittel is still haunted by her friend's suicide. Now 17, she knows what happened to Devory and why, but their ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has refused to accept the truth. The incest that led to Devory's death is not acknowledged, because "that doesn't happen in our community." This thoughtful, disturbing, and insightful novel provides an insider's view of an insular society that denies the reality of rape and oppression within its ranks. Gittel is poised to be married to a good man, the best fate she can obtain. The present action of the story is the unfolding of Gittel's arranged marriage, from negotiations between the families and her only meeting with her intended groom, to the wedding ceremony, young married life and the birth of her first child. But the plot revolves around her internal struggles to reconcile her faith and culture with the awful secrets that she knows and has witnessed. Her own purity–and therefore desirability–is linked to her silence. Speaking out carries too high a cost in a society in which the appearance of holiness and probity is everything. Family and social life within today's Chassidic community are portrayed with affection for the warmth and the enduring values but with a clear eye for the vulnerability of the young and the hurt. When Gittel finally does try to tell her friend's story, she comes up against the powerful men of the community. It is fitting that it is through the written word that both Gittel and the author are able to speak for the Devorys of the world.Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In this stunning debut, Chayil (a pseudonym) takes readers into a cloistered society and exposes its secrets. Moving back and forth between 2003 and the present, Gittel, living in a Brooklyn Hasidic community, remembers her best friend, Devory. Her family seemed like any other, lots of children, ultrareligious, but one night when Gittel sleeps over, she watches as Devory’s brother forces Devory to do something under the covers. Gittel doesn’t understand. This is a community where teenagers in arranged marriages don’t learn about sex until days before the wedding. But when Devory hangs herself and the community covers up the reasons, Gittel is haunted by the girl she couldn’t help. Taken from an incident in her own life, Chayil’s cri de coeur might as easily have been published as an adult book. She does, however, have a wonderful way of getting inside a child’s head. Readers may have trouble with the story’s frequent Yiddish phrases and be shocked by its casual fear and hatred of “goyland.” But this is powerful stuff and a glimpse into places not often seen. Grades 10-12. --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens; Reprint edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802723322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802723321
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (297 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
On the surface, Hush is a now all too familiar tale - a young girl witnesses/experiences sexual abuse, lacks the context and ability to deal with it as a child and then has to grapple with the impact it has on her as an adult.
But there is much more here than the surface.
For one, there is the voice. In the hands of Aishes Chayil, Gittel emerges as one of the most unique voices in children's fiction in quite some time. She is both heartbreakingly naive and devastatingly aware, her sheltered innocence slowly giving away to something adult and knowing, yet never losing her pureness of tone. In the hands of a lesser author this would be an accomplishment - what makes Aishes Chayil's feat all the more masterful is the dual time periods of the book. Someone, she bridges the gap between the adult Gittel and the child Gittel - we never loses sight of who Gittel is and her unique, often whimsical point of view, and yet, with subtle strokes and shadings, the demarcation between child and adult is beautifully depicted.
Finally, there is the tenderness with which Eishes Chayil manages to infuse her depiction of the Chassidic community. In a book like this, it would be all too easy to turn the community into a black and white cartoon of close minded cruelty. But Eishes Chayil does something truer here - she shows the community as it is, its strength, it's beauty and yes, its tragic flaws. She doesn't preach, she doesn't condemn she simply shows. And in showing she points the hard finger of truth where it needs to be pointed.
Similarly, her characterizations are nuanced and shaded. Again, in a book like this, it would be easy to paint the men as patriarchal and oppressive and the women as docile and cowed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An utter success on every conceivable level, this book hits hard, and often. There is pain, there is anger, but mostly there is confusion, the kind that manifests itself when the wolf pulls off the lambskin. The story describes a scenario straight out of hell, played out in a community that prides itself on its relationship to paradise. The horror of the action, and its subsequent cover up, are conveyed here in ways that will stay with you. You will be changed after reading this.
As someone who grew up literally in the neighborhood the story takes place in, and amongst the types of people who populate it, I can safely say this is the true insiders vision. Not one detail is off, not one character a stereotype or a monster. This is a tale of evil perpetrated by people too caught up in the banalities of social intrigues and mores to see the lives around them receding into the abyss. The title quote was penned by David Foster Wallace, and it's the theme that carries through to the end of this book.
A book this powerful, executed this well, are of the rarest sort. The author can safely take her place with Harriet Beecher Stowe and Upton Sinclair, as someone who has lifted the veil off our worse natures, and exposed them to the world, so that we may one day be free of such horrors.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is widespread coverage in mainstream media on the sexual abuses committed by the clergy within the Catholic Church, especially in the last couple of years. However, it is also quite obvious that sexual abuse is a problem in many other communities, especially in communities which are closed off from the mainstream and where victims have less options in getting the help they so desperately need.

In "Hush", author Eishes Chayil (a pseudonym) who is herself a member of the Chassidic community has written a searing narrative focusing on one Chassidic victim's abuse and one witness' torment over a period of six years. Gittel was only ten years old in 2003 when she witnessed her best friend Devory, also ten being abused. The book weaves back and forth between the events of the past in 2003 and Gittel as a grown teenager in 2006, as she prepares to graduate from high school and is about to become eligible for marriage by matchmaking, a tradition in the Chassidic community. Gittel should be happy and elated at the prospect of this new and exciting experience which awaits her, yet she is filled with trepidation and guilt, going back to the events in her past and having to do with her best friend Devory and the tragic consequences from the abuse, a past that haunts Gittel and robs her of peace of mind.

The story in essence deals with Gittel's strong sense of guilt and anger at being unable to voice out the truth of those circumstances, being 'hushed' even as a child when she was the sole witness to the abuse of her best friend. It is a revelatory story in that it gives readers, especially those who are not familiar with the beliefs and practices of the Chassidic community, insights into this community.
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Format: Hardcover
Do you remember studying the Holocaust in grade school? There was a famous saying that you probably learned:

"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

--Martin Niemoeller

Niemoeller's immortal and pointed statement on the dangers of political and moral apathy could easily be applied to the small, sequestered community that Gittel and her dearest friend, Devory, live in, located in Brooklyn, NYC. This is a community of ulra-orthodox Jews, and reading Hush is like stepping into a world that you know exists, but the customs and beliefs that they practice are, on the whole, far more foreign than familiar. This story essentially is about three things: a beautiful and enduring friendship between two little girls, a community who hurts its most innocent members in a misdirected and fatal attempt at protecting itself, and how ignorance and fear condemns victims, not the perpetrators.

Central to the story are Gittel (the narrator) and Devory. They were born on the same day at the same hospital and have been best friends ever since. Gittel is a wonderful narrator, and the best way I can describe her is that she's a cross between Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird and Eloise from Eloise. She is spunky, energetic, and makes observations that are profound in the eyes of a nine-year-old, but ironic and whimsical to the reader. Devory is a bit wilder and often acts out. There is a good reason why she does: Devory is being sexually molested by an older family member.
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