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I Am Forbidden

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular Hasidic sect, the Satmar.

In 1939, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard. He is taken in by a Gentile maid, who raises him as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, whose parents are killed in the wake of Nazi deportations. Josef helps Mila find safety with Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. The two girls form a fierce bond, but as they mature, Atara feels trapped by the restraints of Jewish fundamentalism, while Mila embraces her faith and her role as a respected young woman in her community. When Josef returns and chooses Mila to be his bride, she eagerly strives to be an ideal wife, but a desperate choice after ten years of childless marriage threatens to separate her from everything—and everyone—she cherishes.

A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide, I Am Forbidden announces the arrival of an extraordinarily gifted new voice and opens a startling window on a world long closed to most of us, until now.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 05, 2012 – In this English-language debut, set around WWII, Markovits tells a story of miraculous happenings. A Hasidic boy, saved when his family is killed, in turn saves a girl whose family has tried to flee with their beloved rabbi. Returned to the remnants of the community, then separated, they reunite in Brooklyn, where the rabbi is rebuilding the Satmar community, replicating every tradition, ritual, and law of the old world. But miracles and rituals and laws even when designed to bring followers closer to God come at a price, and Markovits pays scrupulous attention to those as well. Tracing the Stern family from Transylvania to Paris and Brooklyn, she focuses on daughter Atara and adopted daughter Mila, closer than close, until Atara wants more than the Satmar world can offer. Atara leaves; Mila stays, desperately trying to accommodate belief and desire. When she comes up with a theological work-around, we not only sympathize but understand; it is, after all, no more tangled and self-serving than the explanation of how the rabbi made it out of Europe. Raised in a Satmar home, Markovits plays fair: the believers are not stupid; their harsh world has beauty. We dwellers in the modern world know what should happen, but Markovits shows why, for those in the other world, it s not that simple.

Customer Reviews

Gorgeous and poetic

I couldn't stop reading this book. The author's voice is poetic and lyrical and she truly shows what it means to devote yourself to faith so completely that it can ultimately destroy you. I didn't want it to end.

Missing pages??? Repeat pages???

I think the book is ok, but what's most frustrating us that there are several pages that repeat over and over. Pages are also missing in this as well. The download is missing pages!!!

I Am Forbidden

In a quest to better understand issues of the Middle East, Jews in Israel, I took on reading this novel for insight. Markovits provides a backdrop for understanding religion binds us, yet guides us. I am very happy for the discovery of this book and highly recommend it.

I Am Forbidden
View in iTunes
  • $8.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Religious
  • Published: May 08, 2012
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings