Tag Archives: I Am Forbidden

TGIF: Book Olympics. 08.03.2012

TGIF: Book Olympics

08.03.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

This Friday weekly meme is hosted by GReads! The question for the day is:

In the spirit of the Olympics, which books would you give the gold, silver, and bronze medals to?

Our television set has been blaring with the international news of sport and summer games and I don’t have to tell you how sweet it is to not only witness your home country win a medal, but to be a part of the communal celebration of international competition and collegiality. As an avid justice advocate, the significance of the Olympics is far more meaningful than just medals. That said, it’s still important to reward those in excellence as the top three champions in the world in their specific event and/or sport. Four years of determined training and stamina calls for rewarding results.

The same can be said for exceptional books and writing. An author, like an Olympian, has his or her own personal goals of completing and publishing a novel with the hopes of recognition worthy of his or her work. And as book enthusiasts turn the many pages of the books they read, it is worthy to note that gifted writers and storytellers deserve accolades since the craft of writing and its excellence is indeed a specialty.

My Olympic medal awards for the books I have most recently read and reviewed go to (Click the image for my review!):

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Tie for Bronze

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Silver

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Gold

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Which books have you recently reviewed and think should receive top nominations for Olympic Gold, Silver, and Bronze?

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Zara Alexis

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Book Review: I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

Book Review:

I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

06.11.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

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Category: Fiction

Author: Anouk Markovits

Format: Hardcover, 308 pages

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

ISBN: 978-0-385-67673-1

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

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I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits is an intimate and tender revelation of the private and reverent world of the strict Hasidic sect, the Satmar. This generational story is both a delicate and harsh division in one family whose one polar opposite is deeply rooted in the full conviction of its piety, complete obedience, and practice of its extreme spiritual traditions to the other spectrum of yearning for independence through secularism and modernity.

The narrative is beautifully written, a clear and tender exposition that reads naturally and easily without the difficulty that is sometimes associated with getting through a text. Markovits writes with light lyricism and vulnerable honesty that her characters, though flawed, render the reader deeply empathetic.

Zalman Stern’s character is synonymous with his name, a serious, committed, and devout man of the Torah and the Hasidic law, honouring always its doctrine as the first and foremost priority in his life—or rather, embodying in the best way he can, a lifestyle that is worthy in honouring HaShem.

Hannah is Zalman’s dutiful and honourable wife, a loving and humble matriarch, obedient in accordance to the role of wife and mother in the Satmar community.

But the tension in the novel as well as in the Stern family begins with the gradual disintegration of faith by Atara, daughter of Zalman and Hannah and the further observance and spiritual convictions of Mila, their adopted daughter.

As the two young women make their separate choices between selfless abandon into the faith or the difficult decision to abandon family and its beliefs altogether, the story delves deeper into a territory of which there are no black and white, clear, or simple answers—whether they be from the literal translations of the Torah or the social acceptability and constructs of secularism.

And what is wonderful about this book is its equal grace in sharing the beauty and reverence found in both worlds without judgement of one better than another in pronouncing one way of life as right or wrong. The reader may do that on his or her own, but the book itself does not read as a biased one, which gives its characters the freedom they require to be themselves, wholeheartedly, and without judgement.

It does, however, aim to reveal in its complexity, the capacity that human nature has to surrender itself to its chosen convictions, confusions, and acts of self-preservation.

The story continues in its second generational story between Mila and Josef: how acts of sin are terrorized with love and desperation. The tension between what one feels that he or she is called to do by compulsion of conviction, pure willingness, and spiritual law versus what one desires to do for oneself out of pride and desire—is a taut tightrope in which the lines of division are blurred.

I Am Forbidden is an eloquent, graceful, and dramatic story, which begs the question of how to remain faithful to God, family, community, and oneself without sacrificing one facet over to another. The story is both crisis and redemption in both forms of spirituality and secularism and the burning passion in which they clash and implode.

Anouk Markovits is a gifted storyteller with an acutely aware and sensitive pen.

This is a book that I highly recommend to readers of all faiths inclusive of those who are non-believers in any particular religion for it is more than a story of religious, spiritual dichotomy. It is a beautiful narrative of the capacity and the intrinsic human condition to assert itself in its desire to approach—and sometimes reproach— its relationship to knowledge, love, laws, morality, and its Creator.

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Zara’s Rating

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A special thank you to Doubleday Canada of Random House Canada for providing me with a media copy of the book in exchange for an unpaid and honest review.

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Have you ever felt compelled to put God and your faith first before all other things and people?

What are the privileges of a spiritual life ? What do you consider most beautiful about a reverent life for God and faith?

What are and in what circumstances of faith can piety and full abandonment and obedience be difficult—even dangerous?

What is the most important lesson we can learn about ourselves when it comes to understanding and accepting others of different spiritual beliefs, theology, and faith?

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My Family Reads Monday: 06.04.2012

My Family Reads Monday: 06.04.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraA;exis

The originating seed that birthed The Bibliotaphe’s Closet blog was my desire to share my thoughts on books I’ve read with the wider reading community. But, book blogging has become so much more.

Aside from providing a platform of book criticism to the hands of avid readers themselves, to relationships with the promotional, outstretched arms of publishers, and to the collegial relationships built through social media with authors who used to remain recluse and primarily silent behind the words of their work in print—book blogging has become an expansive virtual community of book readers, writers, and lovers alike.

And so, I’ve also decided to incorporate my own literary family into the fold. I, am, by no means, not the only one who reads and loves doing it in my household. I come from a bookish family of four (excluding Max, our family dog, whose eyesight prevents her from reading on her own).

My Family Reads Monday features my family’s book choices and planned reading for the week!

My husband’s pick of the week:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My husband’s background in the book industry and the religious ministry has afforded him many opportunities to share his opinion on fiction, non-fiction, and literature about spirituality. As part of his work, he attended a recent Conference in which he provided a few book reviews. His latest read and book of choice for this week is:

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Christianity After Religion by Diana Butler Bass

From the Chapters-Indigo website:

…Religious affiliation is plummeting across the breadth of Christian denominations. And yet interest in “”spirituality”” is on the rise…

Offering direction and hope to individuals and churches, Christianity After Religion is Bass’s call to approach faith with a newfound freedom that is both life-giving and service driven. And it is a hope-filled plea to see and participate in creating a fresh, vital, contemporary way of faith that stays true to the real message of Jesus.


My son’s picks of the week:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My seven-year-old reading enthusiast has proudly passed the milestone of reading full-length chapter books.

His choices for this week are:

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Witch Switch by Nancy Krulik

From the Chapters-Indigo website:

Katie loves Halloween. Everyone is buzzing about the costume contest, the Halloween parade is just around the corner, and a mysterious black kitten has captured Katie’s attention. But the busy holiday doesn’t stop the magic wind! Join Katie in this Switcheroo Super Special for twice the switcheroos, and find out how she saves the day!

When asked what my son likes the most about the book sop far, he said, “Katie, who becomes a witch must face her greatest fears on the scariest day of the year, Halloween.”

(I think we have a book-blogger in the making…)

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Looney Bay All-Stars: The Vikings Have a Field Day by Helaine Becker

 From the Chapters-Indigo website:

When the All-Stars go on a field trip to Meadows, Vikings show up and, thinking the All-Stars wreaked their settlement, take them captive. To win their freedom the All-Stars challenge the Vikings to a track and field day.

When asked what my son likes most about his read of this book, he said, “There are Vikings who are a kind of pirates and Viking boats in the story. The Viking boats are the best because instead of using a steering wheel they use a stick at the back that helps them steer in different ways. They use the stick to push them forward…”

My daughter’s pick of the week:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My two-year-old daughter does not yet know how to read the printed word, but she loves opening up a book, looking at the pictures, and creating a story for herself from her imagination based on what she sees.

Her pick of the week is:

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Sophie’s Big Bed by Tina Burke

From the Chapters-Indigo website:

Sophie loves her crib. But now, she has a new, big bed. A very big bed.

My daughter has moved from her crib to a new twin bed, so she is well aware of the change that this book speaks about. Ironically, the picture of the character, Sophie, looks much like my daughter, too! The book speaks about the transition from crib to bed and the bravery required in meeting this special milestone.

My pick of the week:

(c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

From the Chapters-Indigo website:

The extraordinary story of a sister who believes and a sister who rebels, set inside the most insular Hasidic sect, the Satmar.

Spanning four generations, from pre-World War II Transylvania, to 1960s Paris, to contemporary New York, Markovits” masterful novel shows what happens when unwavering love and unyielding law clash–a rabbi will save himself while his followers perish; a Gentile maid will be commanded to give up the boy she rescued because he is not of her faith; two devoted sisters will be forced apart when one begins to question their religion’s ancient doctrine. One sister embraces and finds comfort in the constraints of the world she’s always known, while the other knows she will suffocate in a life without intellectual freedom. Separated by the rules of their community, the two sisters are brought together again when a family secret threatens to make pariahs of them all. Dark, powerful, and utterly compelling, I Am Forbidden takes us deep inside the minds of those who leave their restrictive environments, and deep into the souls of those who struggle to stay.

I am a few chapters in and the narrative and subject-matter is as sensitive as it is compelling.  I look forward to sharing my review with you once I complete my reading.

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What are your family’s reading picks for the week?

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Stacking the Shelves: 05.27.2012

Stacking the Shelves: 05.27.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

These are my beloved book stats—I own:

  • six bookshelves
  • 1,652 books listed on Goodreads
  • 2,554 Plum Points
  • a love of three favourite publishers
  • 178 blog posts
  • 454 comments
  • 17,329 hits
  • one Brampton Public Library Card
  • and only 24 hours in a day

which equals a total of a whole lot of book loving love…and well, a compulsion to read literary fiction, memoirs, poetry, short stories, children’s books, and YA!

What does all this book madness lead to?

  • broken-in book spines
  • bent pages
  • last-minute bookmarks
  • bookshelf envy
  • blog branding
  • all-night read-a-thons
  • author worship
  • reading event line-ups
  • literary fiction crushes
  • mailbox anxiety disorder
  • publishers’ rejection slips
  • twitter addiction
  • hashtag deciphering
  • Follow Fridays
  • Friday Reads
  • curse of the Rafflecopter
  • GFC’d, Linky-Linked, Networked Blog-Bogged, and
  • feeding yourself to the Feedburner
  • doing the Dewey
  • chatting on Tweetchat
  • buffing at BufferApp
  • and pinning on Pinterest
  • giving your life over to The Book Depository
  • jumping on the Meme Wagon
  • and of course…
  • stacking your shelves!

which inevitably leads me to this post.

As a book-breathing individual, I, like you, am compelled to stack my shelves.

Here’s my stack this week:

Books for Review:

Books from Random House of Canada:

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Books from House of Anansi:

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 Books from Grove Atlantic:

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Books I’ve Bought:

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What I’ve Borrowed:

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Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. To add your blog to the meme, you can visit here.

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What have you stacked your shelves with this week?

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