Thursday, May 17, 2012

TLC Book Tour Stop and G!ve@way: I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

Title: I Am Forbidden
Author: Anouk Markovits
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Hogarth
Publish Date: May 8, 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like crisp, un-frilly prose.
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You don't mind doing a bit of research while you're reading.
What's the Story?:

From "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.

A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide, I Am Forbidden announces the arrival of an extraordinarily gifted new voice and opens a startling window on a world long closed to most of us, until now."

My Two Cents: 

I love when books can take me to some place that I haven't been before. Before this book, I was not familiar with the Satmar sect of Judaism, a very conservative sect that really limits what women in the sect are able to do. Women are supposed to be almost subservient to their husbands at all times. They don't hold a lot of power. It was interesting to get a glimpse of what it must be like to be in that world. It's also very interesting that the author grew up in a sect much like the one Mila finds herself living in later on in the book once she marries Josef. The author obviously left the sect and has been out of the sect for awhile as she would have never been able to have written a book like this one while remaining a part of the sect.

Standing at under 300 pages, this book that covers from WWII to the present day moves very quickly and sometimes too quickly for my own liking. While I do like books that move quickly, I found myself wishing that the author would dwell a little bit longer and explain some things. I found myself having to look up a lot about the Satmar sect as it was totally unfamiliar to me and I didn't want to miss anything in the book. I thought that the author really had three stories here that she could have written a book about each. The first story being about Josef's adoptive mother and his childhood and ultimately being taken in by another Satmar family. The second being about Mila's life in Williamsburg. The third being about Mila's grandchildren. All of these stories could have included enough detail to make really full stories.

Because the book moves so quickly, it's almost as if you are looking through a window at the characters but you don't really get to know what's going on inside of the characters heads. To me, this was both a bonus and a detriment. It's a detriment because I really wanted to know why the characters were thinking what they were thinking. It was a bonus because the writing is so crisp and fresh that the sort of sparseness of detail doesn't really detract and allows the writing to really shine through.

Bottom line: A very interesting historical fiction that covers a lot of ground.

Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, May 7th:  Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, May 8th:  Dolce Bellezza
Wednesday, May 9th:  nomadreader
Thursday, May 10th:  Life in Review
Friday, May 11th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, May 14th:  Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, May 15th:  The Literate Housewife Review
Wednesday, May 16th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, May 17th:  A Bookish Affair
Monday, May 21st:  Raging Bibliomania
Tuesday, May 22nd:  Stiletto Storytime
Wednesday, May 23rd:  The 3 R’s Blog
Tuesday, May 29th:  Luxury Reading
Monday, June 4th:  Suko’s Notebook
Date TBD:  Melody & Words
Date TBD:  She is Too Fond of Books - guest post


  a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. It is hard to believe that four generations are covered in under 300 pages. The book must have moved quickly! It sounds like a good book of historical fiction, thanks for the review!

  2. I have the ARC of this book and so far I've seen reviews that have given a somewhat higher rating then yours...but also have complained about the unfamiliarity of the Satmar sect.

    I have a feeling I'll probably feel similarly about the book, but all the same it sounds sooo interesting! It's hard to find books about completely untouched topics. Fantastic review as always!

    1. I think books have to walk the line between giving too much and giving too little. This book definitely could have explained a lot more. Having to look up so many things really took me out of the book!

  3. I'm not usually one for historical fiction, but there are so many books coming out recently that make me want to give it a chance.

    1. Oh you should! Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres!

  4. I've heard a lot about this one and it sounds really good. I've been reading a lot of WW II fiction lately and this will go on my list.

  5. I have a thing for WWI and WWII stories. I have a shelf on goodreads for them now. Just can't get enough!

    1. Same here. Both of those time periods are so fascinating!

  6. This one definitely sounds interesting! I really don't like how historical fiction authors tend to focus only on certain aspects of history, when there's so many interesting topics out here. Definitely glad to see something out of the box with this one.

    Thanks for the review!

    Renae @ Respiring Thoughts

    1. I loved that this book covered something that was really new to me even if the book did require me to do a lot of looking up different things.

  7. I'm very excited about the restart of The Hogarth Press. I think their books may well be classics some day and I'd love to get a copy of I Am Forbidden. Thanks for putting one up for grabs.

  8. I've never heard of this sect, either. Love historical fiction, and the unfamiliar. Thanks for the giveaway.

  9. This book sounds fascinating! Thank you so much for the giveaway!

  10. My mom grew up in New York City in a neighborhood of mostly Hasidic Jews (she is not Jewish) so she learned a bit about their culture, and of course told me about it. I'm definitely interested in learning more about this particular very strict sect.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

    1. Same here. I really want to read more. I have a book on my TBR (I can't recall the title) about a woman who leaves one of the super strict sects. It's a memoir and looks super interesting.


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