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Hush Paperback – February 28, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
"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."
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good reading! It addresses a problem which is usually swept under the mat by religious communities.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Both an insightful read into life in the Borough Park community and a sad reminder that bad things can happen even in wonderful communities. Extremely well written.Published 2 months ago by Bruce M Bleaman
As a friend of an abuse survivor, I find it important for these small secluded groups of fellow Jews to read a book like this. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Heartfelt story about growing up in an
Ultra conservative Jewish family in
Brooklyn. When sexual abuse happened to her friend, no one knew how to deal with it, except to... Read more
Heartbreaking, but beautiful. This happens everywhere. We should never be silent. We should never give up trying to help safeguardPublished 3 months ago by C.S.
This book gave an interesting view of the ultra orthodox Jewish religion and what it is like to grow up in such an insular community.Published 4 months ago by Carly