Hush by Eishes Chayil
Gittel lives in a Chassidic community in New York where religion is more than belief in a higher power but a way of life. By most of today’s society, Gittel would be considered extremely naive.
When she was just a young girl, she witnessed something so horrible that she doesn’t know how to explain it. She is told to forget about it. Pretend it didn’t happen. But it still haunts her.
Now as a married woman and about to become a mother, Gittel cannot remain quiet any longer. If her child is a girl, she wants to name her Devory, after her childhood best friend who committed suicide.
The author’s writing has a wonderful voice. I could “hear” the characters as they spoke – their tones, their cadences, their accents.
Wow. The scene when Devory commits suicide. I am not giving anything away about the story by saying she was abused and commits suicide. You know this from the beginning. It is always striking to read about anyone being abused or taking one’s own life. It is even more so when the person is a young child. While I can’t say I “liked” this scene, I felt it was remarkable and added more depth to the story.
There’s a glossary in the back of the book to help with the Yiddish terms used throughout the story. This is very helpful.
Obviously I am not a Chassidic Jew, and my viewpoints on life are radically different from those in that community. The author writes about the Chassidic community as they are. Not condemning them and saying that they need massive changes or to “get with the times”. Not saying that they are perfect. Just saying this is who they are and how they live. In doing so she presents a story of a people and their way of life.
While I liked that there is a glossary available in the back of the book, I didn’t like having to flip to it so much. I thought it was distracting from the story. Additionally, I wonder how many teens would even bother
2011 YALSA Morris award finalist