In this honest, daring, and compulsively readable memoir, Reva Mann paints a portrait of herself as a young woman on the edge—of either revelation or self-destruction. The daughter of a highly respected London rabbi, Reva was a wild child, spiralling into a whirlwind of sex and drugs by the time she reached adolescence. But as a young woman, Reva had a startling mystical epiphany that led her to a women’s yeshivah in Israel, and eventually to marriage to the devoutly religious Torah scholar she thought would take her to ever greater heights of spirituality. But can the path to spiritual fulfillment ever be compatible with the ecstasies of the flesh or with the everyday joys of intimacy and pleasure to which she is also strongly drawn? With unflinching candor, Reva shares her struggle to carve out a life that encompasses all the impulses at war within herself. An eye-opening glimpse into the world of the ultra-Orthodox and their elaborately coded rituals for eating, sleeping, bathing, and lovemaking, as well as a deeply personal rumination on identity, faith, and self-acceptance, The Rabbi’s Daughter is at its heart a universal story, a journey toward redemption that is an unforgettable read.
In her misspent youth, Mann, a journalist and daughter of a prominent London rabbi and granddaughter of a chief rabbi of Israel, was hooked on drugs and promiscuous sex, which led to hepatitis B infection and an arrest for drug possession. In her 20s, she went to Jerusalem, where again she disappointed her progressive Orthodox parents by marrying a born-again American Jew who had become an obsessive and separatist Hasid. Unhappiness and tragedy were Mann's constant companions: a retarded sister; the abortion of a brain-damaged fetus; the unraveling of her passionless marriage and her disenchantment with Hasidism; breast cancer; and her elderly widowed mother's suicide. Mann parades unsavory aspects of her behavior: she and her boyfriend, Sam, knowingly have raucous sex in earshot of her anxious children, and after Sam's brother is killed in a terrorist attack, Mann is upset that Sam isn't paying enough attention to her at the burial. While Mann's clever, fast-paced memoir offers an intimate glimpse of Orthodox Judaism and aptly demonstrates the human yearning for redemption, some of the events she recounts strain credulity, particularly her deflowering in her father's synagogue and a lesbian affair in an ultra-Orthodox women's yeshiva that is overheard by a religiously zealous tattletale. (Nov. 6)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information