Sotah…not Soda!

Time for another book review.  I love books, in case you didn’t know.  I just thought you should know.  Aren’t you glad you know?  Maybe you don’t care.  I’ll shut up now and get on to the review.

Today I’m going to tell you about Sotah, by Naomi Ragen.  This isn’t a book to appease your carbonation craving.   Sorry!  You’ll still have to go down to your local 7-11 to satisfy your soda sensations.  This is S-O-T-A-H.   It kind of sounds like soda, but it’s not…so stop thinking Pepsi, okay!  Carbonation’s bad for your tummy; books aren’t…which is why I eat and drink them up instead.

Sotah is the Hebrew term for wayward wife.  The main character in this book is Dina Reich, a young woman living in Meah Sherim—Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox haredi enclave.

This book fascinated me because I spent a semester abroad in Jerusalem and walked through this very area once.  The people of Meah Sherim don’t like outsiders polluting their community, so I didn’t feel real welcome when I went…but that’s beside the point.  I got the feel of it through this book.  Ragen did an excellent job of helping me see what everyday life is like there.  Thanks, Ms. Ragen.

Dina is raised with her sisters to be an obedient daughter and a dutiful wife, but she secretly yearns for the knowledge and excitement she knows her circumscribed life will never satisfy.  When her first romance is thwarted, she willingly enters into an arranged marriage with a loving but painfully quiet man. Dina’s deeply repressed passion finds a dangerous outlet in a sudden and intense obsession with a married man, with terrible consequences.  She is labeled Sotah and exiled to New York City, where she meets Joan, a modern secular Jewish woman who challenges all she knows of the world and herself.

This was one of those books that kidnapped me and held me ransom till I finished it.  I went to bed one night and tossed and turned restlessly hoping that Dina wouldn’t fail me.  I felt for her…but I also wanted to wring her pretty neck and scream at her not to be a fool!

I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t read it…but suffice it to say, I was totally captivated and read quickly to ransom my life back from Ragen (I have laundry to do, you know).  Ragen’s writing style was vivid and had lots of character development.  I could envision the scenes taking place in Jerusalem and loved watching Dina learn and grow through her thoughts, dreams and mistakes.

It was very well done…like my dad’s steaks.  Personally, I like steak kind of medium rare…but I like my books well done!  So no matter how you like your steaks, I think you’ll enjoy this book…even if you have to enjoy it with a soda…since you’re fixated on that Pepsi.  Sorry.


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