Publication Date: September 2010
Ages: 14 and up
Pages: 368 (approx.)
Hush haunted my dreams; I have never read anything like it. The contrast between love and neglect within this Jewish Chassidic community is chilling. Once I started reading, I became caught up in a world where God and purity are held above all else, yet heinous crimes are hidden and ignored. Families risk their children's health, and even their lives, simply because they are unwilling to believe that sexual abuse could happen in their community.
One of the reasons that Hush has such an impact is that the reader sees the events through the innocent eyes of a child. Gittel, the main character, narrates some events as a young child and some as a young woman. In many ways she is much more innocent than other children because the Chassidic community has sheltered her from the world. After her best friend Devory dies, Gittel is told to forget her and not to tell anyone that Devory was abused by her brother. For almost ten years Gittel is silent, but Devory haunts her dreams. Gittel feels guilt and even begins to question her community's beliefs.
Eishes Chayil (pseudonym meaning "virtuous woman") has created a painfully honest, eye-opening, tragic book. The Chassidic community that she depicts has so many contradictions. Families really love their children, but by not speaking out about the abuse that occurs they also neglect them. This book delves deeply into the structure of the Jewish Chassidic community. The reader sees their complex social interactions and rich traditions. Hush depicts a heartbreaking reality. It takes the reader on a difficult journey, one that even people outside of the Chassidic community may not want to acknowledge.
Hush is skillfully written so that the sexual abuse in the community is explored but does not become graphic. However, I do not recommend this book to anyone under fourteen. While none of the sensitive scenes are explicit, younger children may not be able to handle the content.
This book has a special place in my heart and mind, and I hope it finds a place in yours as well. Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak should read this book.
Thank you to Holly at Good Golly Miss Holly ARC Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this book.