Unorthodox - Deborah Feldman


By Deborah Feldman

  • Release Date: 2012-02-14
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 1,458 Ratings


Now a Netflix original series!

Unorthodox is the bestselling memoir of a young Jewish woman’s escape from a religious sect, in the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel and Carolyn Jessop’s Escape, featuring a new epilogue by the author.

As a member of the strictly religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, Deborah Feldman grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. Yet in spite of her repressive upbringing, Deborah grew into an independent-minded young woman whose stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to imagine an alternative way of life among the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at nineteen and realized that, regardless of the obstacles, she would have to forge a path—for herself and her son—to happiness and freedom.

Remarkable and fascinating, this “sensitive and memorable coming-of-age story” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) is one you won’t be able to put down.


  • WOW

    By mbookie7
    I watched the short series on Netflix and fell in love with it, so i decided to read the book and I’m so glad i did. Such a telling story and really showed more than the show did
  • Thought it would be better

    By mtcjj
    I watched the Netflix series by the same name and enjoyed that, so I decided to read the book. This book was boring and dragged in many places. The author seemed very self righteous and arrogant. I felt like she had a very discriminatory attitude to those outside her culture.
  • Best book I’ve read in a long time!!

    By Gabrielle Kelly
    For my AP Lang and Comp class, we were asked to choose a non-fiction book to read and eventually write a synthesis essay on. I had originally picked another book but I then decided to read this one after I discovered that Netflix’s “Unorthodox” was based off this lovely memoir. I was always planning on watching the mini-series but I decided to read the book that started it all first. Best decision ever! This book was written in the most beautiful way where I really captured every emotion and sensation that Deborah felt! It was as if I was there! This memoir kept me intrigued as it was the complete opposite of boring! I have never been that familiar with Jewish culture, let alone Hadistic Jewish culture, but this book truly opened my eyes. I got emotional near the end because I didn’t want the book to finish! If you’re looking for a story with humor, strife, sadness, relief, and sheer joy, then this is the book for you!
  • Much Different From Netflix

    By D-273
    I watched the first 10 minutes of the Netflix series of the same name and knew immediately I wanted to read the book. I bought it instantly on iTunes and started reading it the moment I finished the series. The book is completely different. The series says “based on” this book, and that is a very, very loose statement. None of the characters in the series are in the book, and those that bear any similarities aren’t given the same roles they have in the series. While the book is definitely a memoir of a girl escaping her religious upbringing, if you’re expecting a more in-depth version of the events shown in the Netflix series, it is not that. I bought this memoir expecting exactly that, and was disappointed to find it was a description of her life in the community and her thoughts growing up rather than the tale of escape the series makes it out to be. Only the last chapter is dedicated to her actually leaving the community, as it is far less dramatic than the show makes it out to be. There’s no evil stalker or other men coming after her, or anyone threatening her in any way. There’s no drama whatsoever in this book, no narrow escape to a foreign city, no dream of musical excellence, no homelessness - none of the struggles the series is supposedly “based on” are there. Even her mother is only mentioned once or twice, and never by name. It’s decently written, but had I known it bears virtually no similarity to the series of the same name, I wouldn’t have bought it.
  • A brave tale of awakening.

    By Gamez Mario
    Thank you for shining the light into such a closed and secluded community. By understanding more I now feel compelled to accept them and respect their way of life. The only thing missing in such a community is gender equality. A wonderful tale. Mario Gamez
  • Good Read

    By TRao10
    Interesting account of life inside the insular, religious Satmar community. The journey of growing up feeling "different" to finding her authentic self is fascinating. I look forward to Ms. Feldman's follow up book, Exodus.
  • Unorthodox

    By Shexy52
    I read this book all evening and did not want it to end. Related to the authors personal journey to create and live her own life, one where she was the driving force. Interesting facts about her Hassidic community and why they live as they do and believe what they believe. I hoe this is the first of more books to come from Deborah Feldman.
  • Amazing Amazing read

    By Sexyspartan2012
    I was hooked from beginning to end. It was an inspiring book with great visuals about a young woman's journey to freedom in the modern world. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good nightclub read!!!!!!
  • Unbelievable

    By Koidesh
    The author of this book know very well that each word and every segment and episode of this book is false bluff and funny. א צורידערטע אפגעפארע פרוי, וואס אנטלויפט פונעם אייגענע שאטן, זי ווייסט אויך זייער גוט אז די גואישע לעבנסשטייגער איז גרוליג, פארשאלטען, און מיזרעבל....
  • Unorthodox

    By Careon
    I found this book very interesting. Both my parents were brought up in orthodox Jewish homes but they never talked much about it. It helped me understand some of their behaviors that seemed rather at odds to our daily lives. They had given up institutionalized Judaism by the time I was five. This book clarified a lot of things for me. I also enjoyed reading about how a woman found her strength and identity. This is a book worth reading from a historical prospective and is entertaining.