Like No Other by Una LaMarche
One of the ways I’m able to read so many books is because I discovered the awesomeness of the audiobook. Both my school library and our local public library have audiobooks a-plenty via Overdrive that I can download to my phone. When I traded radio listening for audiobooks last year at the suggestion of two fellow school librarians, I realized I could easily finish a ten hour audiobook each week. This switch has allowed me to set a higher reading challenge goal for myself which I track on Goodreads, and I feel better prepared to make book recommendations.
Recently, I took a chance on an audiobook I hadn’t heard much about called Like No Other by Una LaMarche. After reading the book’s summary, I expected it to be a sweet, somewhat predictable love story about two teens who fall for one another despite major cultural differences. This book is anything but simple and predictable!
The story alternates between Devorah and Jaxon. Devorah is an Hasidic Jew who has never ventured outside of her strict Hasidic community. She attends a Jewish school, wears tights even in hot weather to fully cover her legs and doesn’t watch tv or talk on a cell phone. Devorah is bound by the rules of “Yichud” which prevent her from speaking to any male alone until she is married. When she gets stuck in a hospital elevator with Jaxon, however, she reluctantly breaks Yichud in order to politely answer Jaxon’s questions.
Devorah and Jaxon begin a secret and highly illicit love affair. Devorah’s religion dictates that her parents will choose a husband for her–likely before she turns 18– so dating, especially a non-Jew, is forbidden and can bring great shame upon the family. As they continue to spend more time together, Devorah begins to question her faith. Why wouldn’t G-d (her respectful reference to God) want her to have happiness with Jaxon? Jaxon, too, must decide how different his future path will be if he chooses to make a life with Devorah.
Like No Other definitely has a Romeo and Juliet feel, and it would be a great read for anyone who enjoyed The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon or All We Have Left by Wendy Mills– both books about culturally different characters who are attracted to one another. Una LaMarche taught me so much about the Hasidic Jewish culture through this book, and I know I am a better person for it.
Food for Thought
As I reflected on this book after reading it, I realized food plays an important role in the story. For example, Devorah buys a bag of M & M’s, forbidden for her to eat, and ends up giving them to Jaxon during their first meeting. Later, readers learn all about Devorah’s large family during their Shabbos dinners. Also, Jaxon, who works at a fast food chicken wing restaurant, makes it a priority to learn what foods Devorah can eat during Shabbos so he can honor and impress her on a top-secret date.
In keeping with this food theme, I decided to make Jewish bread known as “challah.” I have eaten challah before, and it is delicious, but I had never made it myself. I have to be honest that I don’t enjoy cooking, and I rarely bake. I come from a long line of very talented lady bakers, but this is not a talent I possess, so making challah was definitely outside of my comfort zone. Anytime a recipe involves yeast and required time to rise, I get nervous.
Happily, I learned challah is relatively simple to make. I followed a recipe you can find here. The hardest part of the whole process was keeping my hands clean to take pictures!
I made two loaves of challah, and unintentionally did so on a Friday night which happens to be the beginning of Shabbos– or Shabbat for us goys! I kept a loaf for me and Mike, and I plan to make some really tasty French toast with it this week. I gave the other loaf to my friends Katie and Seth who are Jewish. As I’ve told my friend Katie, I cook and bake for only my truest friends, so I hope they enjoy the product of this plot driven experience.
So, “challah” at me! Tell me if you’ve read this book or would be interested in giving it a go. Or, have you been inspired to attempt your own plot driven experience lately? Please share!
Thanks for reading,