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Publisher's Summary

A razor-sharp, hilarious, and poignant memoir about growing up in the closed world of the ultraorthodox Jewish community.

The third of six children in a family that harks back to a gloried Hassidic dynasty, Judy Brown grew up with the legacy of centuries of religious teaching and the faith and lore that sustained her people for generations.

But her carefully constructed world begins to crumble when her "crazy" brother, Nachum, returns home after a year in Israel living with relatives. Though supposedly "cured", he is still prone to retreating into his own mind or erupting in wordless rages. The adults' inability to make him better - or even to give his affliction a name - forces Judy to ask larger questions: If God could perform miracles for her sainted ancestors, why can't he cure Nachum? And what of the other stories her family treasured?

Judy starts to negotiate with God, swinging from holy tenets to absurdly hilarious conclusions faster than a Talmudic scholar: She goes on a fast to nab coveted earrings; she fights with her siblings at the dinner table for the ultimate badge of honor ("Who will survive the next Holocaust?"); and she adamantly defends her family's reputation when, scandalously, her parents are accused of having fallen in love - which is absolutely not what pious people do.

For all its brutal honesty about this insular community, This Is Not a Love Story is ultimately a story of a family like so many others, whose fierce love for each other and devotion to their faith pulled them through the darkest time in their lives.

©2015 Judy Brown (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"An instant classic.... With echoes of Scout Finch, the feisty Menuchah guides readers on an unforgettable journey of love, justice and compassion." (Leah Vincent, author of Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood)
"I love books about families and this one is so warm and funny that I couldn't put it down.... This Is Not a Love Story actually is one." (Nina Stibbe, author of Man at the Helm and Love, Nina)
"In this thoughtful and engaging memoir, Judy Brown offers a fascinating glimpse into a world, a family, a life.... I was utterly absorbed." (Jennifer Traig, author of Devil in the Details and Well Enough Alone)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

More than a love story...

This very cleverly written memoir from Judy Brown chronicles growing up with a "crazy brother" Nachum and how hard her mother fought, in the sometimes claustrophobic world of Hassidism, to find help for her son. It may be my age (46), but I empathized with Ms. Brown's mother's point of view more than the sister who narrates, though she was mentally hilarious and seeing through her eyes kept the more difficult times the family went through lighter. The ending stayed with me a long, long time.

Definitely recommend.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Heartwarming

Any additional comments?

This book takes the familiar tale about growing up with an autistic sibling and turns it on its head, since the author is an ultra-Orthodox Jew. Getting a glimpse into Orthodox life is equally as interesting as learning about the author's brother. I'm no sentimentalist, but even I felt good inside when the brother began to respond to therapy. Worth a listen.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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POWERFUL*TOUCHING*INSPIRING STORY

This book was so captivating and touching that I could not stop listening to it.

This story reminds us that we should always strive to see others as God sees them. The struggles families with autistic children go through are inconceivable by those of us who have never had to deal with the challenges presented by their presence in our world.

The families and other wonderful people who work with autistic children are the Real Heroes and Superstars in our world.

If this story has been made into a movie I would love to see it. I am so thankful I had the privilege to listen to this audio book. I know many caring people who would love to read its and I will recommend it to them

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A Moving Memoir

Would you listen to This Is Not a Love Story again? Why?

I fully intend on listening to This is Not a Love Story again for the many poignant and powerful scenes of a life inside the world of the Chasidim.

What did you like best about this story?

I think the thing I like most was how the narrator relates her growth process, going from her thoughts as a girl of seven or eight, to her memories as a teen, to the epilogue where she talks briefly about her adult relationship with her brother.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There were many moments where I was highly sympathetic to the family. Having known autistic individuals for over half my life, I can only imagine what it must have been like to live with an autistic sibling, especially in a time where autism was not a common diagnosis. The way the narrator describes everything leaves you with a clear vision of what that world and time was like.