My mother used to say that no one knows what’s going on in a stew but the pot and the spoon.
I wanted to love Like No Other by Una LaMarche as much as I liked this quote from it, but I have to admit that I was more lukewarm than red hot about this one. The premise is great – a Romeo & Juliet romance set in modern day New York, between two teenagers who live within walking distance in two very different worlds. Jaxon is a shy nerd from a poor family, while Devorah is confined by her strict Hasidic upbringing, but when they get trapped in an elevator together (by fate or God or just plain happenstance) they risk everything to make things work. It’s a book that’s just as much about challenging your beliefs as it is about love, and I think that’s a great idea.
Unfortunately, I found myself unable to connect to stiff and conflicted Devorah or airy and romantic Jaxon. The main characters felt like such caricatures that I just couldn’t fully relate to either of them, and that brought the book down a few notches in my esteem.
I will say, this is a fantastic book for anyone interested in learning more about Hasidic Judaism. As someone who honestly knew very little about that sect of Judaism before reading this book, I think I’m qualified to say that LaMarche does a great job setting up the culture in what felt like an organic and unbiased way. The details of how they practice never get in the way of, or bog down, the story line, and she gives the good and the bad aspects of Hasidic life in equal measure. For all that Devorah spends most of the book questioning the rigidity of the religion, she still loves the culture and believes in it to some extent throughout. I thought that the religious aspect was handled incredibly well here, which makes this a great choice for anyone looking to diversify their reading list.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars