Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

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Disobedience is the debut novel of British author Naomi Alderman. It received widespread positive reviews when it was released in 2006 and was recently adapted into a critically acclaimed movie starring Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz.

The novel is set in the midst of a close-knit community of Hasidic Jews in a suburb of London. When a prominent rabbi dies, his outcast daughter, Ronit, returns to bury her father and come face to face with her past.

I found Disobedience an unusual read. I unabashedly borrowed it from the library because of the lesbian plot (I’m a sucker for a good lesbian plot!) but it is far from a straightforward love story. Alderman has a wonderfully descriptive way about her and the passages which address the intricacies of Jewish life and customs make for insightful reading. The three central characters of the love triangle (Ronit, her ex-girlfriend Esti and Esti’s husband Dovid) are realistically drawn, sympathetic characters who have dealt with the oppressiveness of their Jewish world in different ways.

With that said, I didn’t necessarily enjoy Alderman’s book. While I found the subject matter and setting intriguing, I came away with a dissatisfaction for how the story played itself out. And while the principal characters were realistic, I still felt a disconnect from their story.

In short, Disobedience is a thought-provoking read, but it falls short of an enthusiastic recommendation from me.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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