• Becoming Eve

  • My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman
  • By: Abby Stein
  • Narrated by: Abby Stein
  • Length: 7 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+, Biographies & Memoirs
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (83 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The powerful coming-of-age story of an ultra-Orthodox child who was born to become a rabbinic leader and instead became a woman

Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of 18th century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews. 

But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity - a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life. 

Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?

©2020 Abby Stein (P)2020 Seal Press

Critic Reviews

"Becoming Eve is a powerful, moving story of grappling with both gender and faith. Abby Chava Stein is a compelling storyteller who shows us how to follow the voice within--even when everyone and everything around us is telling us not to." (Danya Ruttenberg, author of Surprised By God and Nurture the Wow)

"Becoming Eve is a beautiful, haunting story of self-discovery. Her longing for truth, acceptance, and love will echo in the heart of every reader." (Leah Vincent, author of Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood)

"'No agenda, just my story,' Abby Stein writes in the prologue to her fascinating memoir. And yet, her book delivers on a very definite agenda: helping us empathize with experiences radically different from our own. With humor and grace-and impressive erudition of Jewish mysticism-Abby Stein grants us entry into a singular, otherworldly capsule: the byzantine world of Hasidic 'royal' families and the Sisyphean pursuit of living an authentic life within it. (Shulem Deen, author of All Who Go Do Not Return, winner of the Prix Médicis and the National Jewish Book Award)

What listeners say about Becoming Eve

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Don’t waste your time

This book is flawed in many ways. The lure of the story was to find out how a revered first son of a Hasidic rabbi could possibly juxtapose being ultra observant and becoming transgendered. This never happens. You have to wade through 21 chapters of this book before the topic is even remotely discussed. In those 21 chapters, there is more information about how the Hasidic community operates then anyone who is not ultra observant would be interested in, or frankly, understand. The narrator, who is also the author, has a distinct accent which makes understanding some of the English words difficult. Also, the narrator has an extremely annoying sing song way of speaking that, to me, gets in the way of the story. This book is really more of a primer to becoming ultra orthodox than it is anything else, so unless you are planning to convert, find a better use of the 7 hours it takes to get through this book.

2 people found this helpful

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Incredible

Compelling story about a very insular world. Especially for viewers of unorthodox and shtisel or Srugim

2 people found this helpful

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  • DC
  • 08-11-20

Truely Amazing

An amazing story all trans girls should listen to. Really appreciate that Abby Stein narrated this book. Could clearly hear every word.

1 person found this helpful

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Thank you

I am not Jewish... but I love several Jewish friends... as heartbreaking as your life story was to read I am so proud of you and the person you are. I hope someday we can meet so I can give you a hug.

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Phenomenal

Abby Stein's life journey to finding true, authentic self is inspiring and important. It is so so important to be seen fully for who we are and Abby's book supports that concept. Thank you Abby for your words and being willing to share your personal journey with us.

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Great story with abrupt ending

This was a great story and highly engaging. I found that it ended very abruptly and I wanted to know what happened in Abby’s leaving the community. It felt like a key part of the story was missing. Regardless, highly recommend if you are interested in this genre of memoirs or are looking to learn more about the experience of leaving the ultra orthodox community. Thank you for sharing your story, Abby.

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  • AvidReader
  • 11-17-20

Profound story of strength and depth

This is a story of an internal struggle between the souls truth and the prescribed truth. Abby recounts her story through the years living in the Frum chassidish community where LGBT, perhaps even more so the T, is not only ignored but suppressed. Striving to be the good version in accordance with the community, meant not being able to be oneself. Abby found and embraced her true being and lives her life more authentically. This comes with the cost of losing family because it is either the souls truth or the prescribed truth, it can't be both.
The narration was good, considering it is a debut narration.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Skye
  • 01-29-21

Different narrator may have helped

As a Jew I didn’t have any issues understanding a lot of the Jewish terms but Abby has a distinct Yiddish accent and this combined with her unfortunate lisp and a Brooklyn accent make it quite difficult to listen to. Perhaps I’d have been better reading this in book format.

I finally listened to the book and my overwhelming thoughts were that this is a book that could have been good but wasn’t. I purchased the book to hear about how he became transgender, how he told his wife etc. Instead, it was confusing as to what happened at his sons bris, how he told his parents he was leaving and instead none of that was here.

What we got was a book that was difficult to listen to, really didn’t explain the issues that really brought things to a head and prompted his leaving and turned out to be a poor imitation of what it could have been.

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  • Clochette
  • 12-01-20

A gripping story, an extraordinary destiny!

I loved this book. Just after reading "Unorthodox", I wanted to find out more about the ultra-orthodox world. This is the male version of it, Abby could have been Deborah's brother, and a man's life is so much more interesting than a woman's in that "gender-segregated" community.

What makes this story so unique, though, is the enormity of the challenge Abby faces to journey to her true self in such a restrictive, unforgiving environment... and the candid and honest insight she offers us.

I devoured the book in 3 days, learned a lot in the process, and fevered with Abby every step of the way.
I have also listened to many of her interviews, and now follow her journey on Facebook.

What a courage. What an inspiration for so many others. What an extraordinary destiny.
What an amazing and gracious lady!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-27-20

stunning emotional journey

I finished the whole story in under a day
as a transgender Jewish person, hearing the story of another transgender jew in such an honest way has been important and a blessing for me.

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  • Agatha Christie
  • 05-11-20

Interesting read but poor narration.

I looked forward to hearing this but the poor narration spoiled it for me. I had to slow it down which is a first. Her accent is very heavy and the speech would have been clearer if they used someone else with a clear voice to read it. Also she has a strong lisp which does tend to get on the nerves although it can’t be helped. Her story was very interesting and sad in parts. This covers the start of her life up until she starts to transition. A few parts were skated over for example how did she tell her wife and her reaction. Her divorce was hardly mentioned. So a few holes. Overall a good read. I probably should have bought the written version instead.

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  • Theres
  • 03-10-21

Narration tedious, story incredible

coming from a non-jewish background I found the storyline hard to follow with the complicated names but got the general gist to appreciate the story line(ish)