Andrew Greene (530nm330hz) wrote,
Andrew Greene

Books of the day: "Women at the Seder" and "Room"

I read two books today and recommend them both.

At shul, while waiting for my family to arrive (I go to the early service; they come to the late service so I can work with the kids on their tefillot while Heather gets to daven undisturbed), I took down from the library shelf Joel Wolowelsky's Women at the Seder. This is a traditional haggadah with a commentary written and anthologized by Dr. Wolowelsky; the commentary combines insights by women scholars (such as Nechama Leibowitz and Erica Brown) and discussions of women's issues as they relate to Pesach from the past 3,500 years (ranging from the role of women in hastening the Redemption to the practical halachot of women washing mayim acharonim). I found it fascinating and there are a few gems in there that I plan to share at our family's seder this year.

After lunch, I read Room by Emma Donoghue. I had heard the author interviewed on NPR a few months back when the book came out, and had been meaning to read it; Heather had taken it out of the library so I piggybacked on her. It's a very well written novel, somewhat disturbing but overall quite powerful. There are parallels with Hush; both are books with first-person child narrators (in the case of Hush, a nine-year old for about half the book; in the case of Room, a five-year old for the entirety), in which someone close to the narrator is horribly abused. Yet the books themselves are quite different: Hush is about an individual challenging the community to confront abuse, while Room is about the individual trying to survive abuse. Of the two, Room is better written but Hush is the one I connected to emotionally.
Tags: books, kvetches, reviews

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