Like No Other

Una LaMarche
  • Review
By – December 11, 2015

A pair of star-crossed lovers — from clas­sic lit­er­a­ture on, it’s been an irre­sistible theme. But when one half of the cou­ple is a nice Hasidic girl who has always obeyed the rules of fam­i­ly, reli­gion, and social group and the oth­er is a West Indi­an young man from a fam­i­ly whose goal is to have him do well in school and suc­ceed in life, we have an unusu­al twist on the Romeo and Juli­et theme that will cap­ture the imag­i­na­tions of ado­les­cent read­ers and pro­vide food for thought and discussion.

Devo­rah and Jax­on meet in an ele­va­tor that is stuck between floors dur­ing a black­out result­ing from a hur­ri­cane at a hos­pi­tal in Brook­lyn. Devo­rah under­stands that this rela­tion­ship, although appeal­ing, has nowhere pro­duc­tive to go; Jax­on finds it hard­er to under­stand the com­plex­i­ties of the sit­u­a­tion. They are both good, hon­est kids and nei­ther is the type to sneak around, yet they find them­selves doing so. They each feel a sin­cere pull toward the oth­er, and both learn and grow through their painful experiences.

LaMarche has done quite a bit of research about the Hasidic com­mu­ni­ty for her por­trait of Devo­rah and, for the most part, has done a cred­i­ble job. There are areas where a knowl­edge­able read­er will real­ize that the author has researched rather than expe­ri­enced the lifestyle as some details are close but not quite authen­tic, and there are some actu­al slip-ups — for exam­ple, Devorah’s broth­er-in-law would nev­er, under any cir­cum­stances, have hugged her. Nev­er­the­less, most read­ers will be caught up in the action and will for­give these laps­es, enjoy­ing this tale of star-crossed love in a unique­ly New York eth­nic setting.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 12 and up.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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