Gittel is about to turn eighteen, the age in her Chassidic community where loveless marriages are arranged. She has just finished high school, and is supposed to be celebrating the beginning of her real life with her friends. But she is haunted by the memory of her childhood best friend, Devory, who committed suicide when the pair were nine. Gittel knows the truth of what drove Devory to her death, but inside the closed fundamental Jewish community, it’s a truth that’s expected to stay hidden.
Can Gittel cope with the guilt of her childhood and grow into the Jewish wife she is expected to become? Or will she escape the shackles and secrecy that have bound her for too long?
Hush by Eishes Chayil is an extremely confronting book that deals with sexual abuse, suicide, secrecy, and closed communities.
Some parts of the novel are extremely upsetting, but powering through, you get a heart-wrenching story of tragedy and resilience.
The lifestyle chronicled within the novel is one most people are not familiar with, and could easily find alienating.
One of the hardest things to get your head around in reading Hush is that it contains many Yiddish words. It can make reading slow, although a glossary is provided in the back. The use of Yiddish adds to the authenticity of the novel, and helps readers to realize that this is still life for many Chassidim around the world.
The novel is based on the true experiences of author Eishes Chayil who grew up amongst the Chassidim and witnessed the horrors and secrecy that can occur in such religious sects. After publishing Hush, Chayil left the community though continues to speak out about it.
Hush is not a book for everyone, but it definitely makes for an interesting read if you are able to stomach the horrible situations it contains.
Available now: Bloomsbury RRP$15.99