Book Review: I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits & Giveaway

I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits is quite the book. To be honest I’m almost at a loss as to what to say about as I was quite overwhelmed by the story. I Am Forbidden takes you deep into the life of a family living in a Hasidic community. I have read novels about Jewish families before but as I’ve learned there are different sects within most religions and the Hasidic Jews seem to be very strict in their beliefs, traditions, customs, and most importantly rules. I found it fascinating to read of lives so very different than mine.

The novel begins around 1947 and the last entry is 2012 and spans the lives of Mila, Josef, and Atara. There are many other characters but I felt that these three were really who the story was built around. In the beginning Josef, a young boy, who having lost his own parents to violence witnesses the same happen to Mila. He grabs her and keeps her safe and helps her to get to the Stern family where her father had told her to go. The Sterns willingly take her in and love her like one of their own. Later Josef is also taken in by the Stern family and eventually is sent away to study with the rabbi in New York.

Atara and Mila are very close in age and bond from the beginning when Mila refuses to talk to anyone but Atara. They feel they are not only best friends, but sisters for life. There is only one problem and that is that Atara is rebelling against the strict life and rules that her family lives by. When the girls are sent to a seminary to study before marriage Atara discovers more and more information that leads her to believe that the life her family wants for her isn’t the one she wants to live. She wants to go on to university and maybe into medicine. Mila, on the other hand, has no aspirations other than to marry and have children and bring them up in the same Jewish faith that she has lived in.

When Josef eventually asks to marry Mila she is overjoyed. The two have shared a special bond since they were young and he saved her from being killed. They marry and all is well but over time things start to fall apart and ultimately Mila makes a decision that sets in motion a horrible chain of events that will affect their lives and their children’s lives in the future. With Mila’s marriage, Atara’s mother focuses on getting Atara married but this just isn’t anything she wants for herself so she flees. Is it ultimately the right choice for her? Is it worth giving up your family completely, as well as the one person who was your best friend and sister?

This novel really is more deep than I can possibly put in words. There are some parts that the average reader might find harder to get through but the bulk of the novel is mesmerizing. I think for those, like me, who love to read about other cultures or religious communities; they will really like this novel. For me I was most interested in learning the way that this particular community lived. I Am Forbidden is the perfect title for this novel as so much is forbidden in the lives of the people living within this religious sect. Women especially seem to really not be treated as much other than baby makers and home makers. Now that’s not to say that all families are the same but this one seemed to be. I know without a doubt I could not live in a strict life with all the rules that they had to abide by.

This isn’t a novel that you can expect to be an easy read because it isn’t. It requires your full attention as it is quite involved. I Am Forbidden will take the reader into another life where you will see what it’s like to belong to a certain religion. It encompasses the importance of family, love, tragedy, and the dangers of secrets and lies and simply taking things to far out of desperation to make things right, not realizing that more than anything they are being torn apart instead. A novel well worth reading!

I read I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits for her book tour with TLC Book Tours so be sure to check out all the other tour stops to see what they are saying about the book.  You can find Anouk Markovits on her website and you can purchase your own copy of I Am Forbidden here in the US or here in Canada.



I have one copy of I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits to share with my readers.  To enter…

  • For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
  • For 2 entries, follow my blog.  If you already do, thank you, and please let me know so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
  • For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway and spread the word.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, June 2/12.  Good luck!

Source:  Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and Hogarth.  No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.


  1. says

    Very nice review, Darlene. I love learning about different cultures and religions, but haven’t read anything about the Hasidic Jews. The book sounds fascinating.

  2. Anne says

    What a wonderful review. This captivating book would be special and a treasure. I would enjoy it greatly. I am an e-mail subscriber.

  3. debbie says

    I have actually heard those same things said about it. I think your review was spot on, and it sounds like this book is a pretty accurate protrayal of them.

    I am a gfc follower

  4. Ellie says

    Thanks for this fabulous book review and giveaway. Being Jewish this book appeals to me very much and it sounds memorable. I subscribe via e-mail.

  5. says

    Well, I had an opportunity to review this and turned it down but then everyone is loving it, so I guess I have to enter! :–) Great review!

    nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

  6. says

    I am reading this one soon, and will be prepared for an intense and concentrated book. I didn’t read the entire review for fear of spoilers, but when I am done, I would love to talk this one over with you!

  7. Colleen Turner says

    This one sounds just wonderful! I love an emotional, deep read that consumes my attention! Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Karen B says

    Wow – you really put your heart into this review! It sounds absolutely fascinating.

  9. Margie says

    I enjoy reading about other cultures and beliefs, so I think I might enjoy this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. wendy hoffman says

    Love the review, sounds like a good read! I follow via GFC and email also tweeted. Thanks for another great giveaway!
    wendynjason04@gmail dot com

  11. Carl says

    Those new Hogarth books are so cool. This one sounds especially good. Please enter my name for the chance to win a copy.

  12. says

    Somehow I am not on the tour for this one, and it is totally up my alley. Thanks for the giveaway. Loved your review of this complex novel.

  13. says

    My tour date is coming up, so I will be starting this book as soon as I post this comment! I’m glad to see you like the book and found it too deep to capture in words (though I think you did a great job!).

  14. Diane B. says

    I read a couple other reviews on this and they were about the same as yours. I guess I’ll give it a try because I’m very interested in their lifesyle. I used to care for a very elderly Jewish couple who were wonderful people so this should be a good one for me. Thanks for the chance to win it.
    I’m a follower & I tweeted.!/Dyniy/status/201216503545217026

  15. Staci@LifeintheThumb says

    I watched Oprah’s interview inside a Hasidic family and was riveted by their story. I just put another book about this religion (a memoir) on hold to read later this summer. This intrigues me because I’m a lot like you, wanting to learn more about other people!!

    I follow and all that other stuff! 😀

  16. Mary Ann Woods says

    It is always so interesting to find out about groups, religious and otherwise, that seem to be closed to the outside. By learning some more about them I think we become more tolerant. I follow you via email, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Networked Blogs, and GFC. Thanks for all your good reviews!

  17. says

    I read this novel a few months ago. I too enjoyed it very much. I have read novels about other Jewish sects, usually Chabad or modern orthodox.
    This novel is very different because it deals with the Satmars. A very tight strict Jewish community. There are different Jewish communities that are less strict. I am Jewish, so I could relate to this novel. Thank you so much for your review. You can see my review at my book blog.

  18. says

    This book sounds powerful and riveting. I don’t know a lot about the Hasidic community, aside from the strict rules and guidelines they have about how to live your life. I would love to learn a little more reading this book.
    This is a wonderful, thoughtful,review, Dar, that piqued my curiosity in this book.

    I’m a GFC follower of your blog and I subscribe via email too!


  19. says

    I knew as soon as I read the synopsis for this that it was the book for me. I think the best books are the ones that leave you thinking about them for weeks after you’re done reading. Thank you for the opportunity to read it.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *