Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In Review: The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis

This charming piece of fiction is a delightful picture of life in a sleepy Southern Orthodox Jewish community, namely, Memphis, Tennessee. At first glance I knew I had to read it - who ever heard of fried chicken and black-eyed peas for Shabbos dinner? The author gives a colorful display of characters set in this close-knit community that thrives on tradition. However, their homeostasis is thrown into tumult when Batsheva, a free-thinking convert moves into town. Her character even challenged my own thinking of why we do what we do, and getting into the spirit of the commandments. The only thing negative I have to say about this book is that one could get the idea that tradition and rules are "bad" and rebellion and "new" ideas are better than being "old-fashioned." However, I do not believe that this is the direction that the author was trying to take the story, and honestly, I gained much from this easy-to-read book. I rarely read fiction any more, but this was well worth it. I recommend this book to anyone that has any curiousity about what a Jewish community in the South looks like. In the words of Levar Burton, "But you don't have to take my word for it!"

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