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Unorthodox Love by Heidi Shertok - Review

Monday, November 13, 2023

(Can you see where I broke my tablet? I dropped it about 5am in the tiled bathroom on holiday and it cracked all over - this photo doesn't show the spread of the crack in the bottom left all over the read of the screen. It's still usable but a bit weird, and I was really annoyed!)

I saw an author I follow recommend this book on Twitter (I will never call it X) a while back, and then they did it again when it was 99pm so I took a gamble and bought it for that. I don't generally read romance but I was intrigued by this because of the Orthodox Jewish characters. I might have mentioned before that my undergraduate degree was in Theology and Religious Studies and I'm interested in all sorts of religions. I don't like fundamentalists of any stripe, but Penina in this book is more modern Orthodox so that was fine. I have read my fair share of fanfiction in my time (and written it!) and I think there were a bunch of tropes in this book that seemed really fanficcy, but that just made me really gleeful! I would like to read more romances in this ilk, so definitely recommend some if you know any!

Penina is twenty nine years old and she works in a jewellery store with her coworkers, Maya and Gina. She and Maya are friends, but Gina is awful. Their boss, Joe, is ill, so he is having some time off. Penina volunteers in the NICU of her local hospital, and their she meets Sam, a hospital benefactor. He then turns out to be Joe's son, and he is taking over the running of the shop. Penina thinks he's hot, but lots of misunderstandings occur and they get on each other's nerves, but this is a romance! There'll be a happily ever after! I very much went in knowing that, but I loved how we got there!

Because there are complications. Penina can't have children, which explains why she's not married at twenty nine. In Orthodox Jewish culture girls generally marry young and have several children. Penina's sister Libby is just a bit older than her and she has four children and is married. Their younger sister Fraydie is a bit of a livewire and is mischievous. Penina has been using a matchmaker (very usual in the culture) to try to find a husband. But because of her infertility, she is matched with some proper weirdos and some men a lot older than her. She's about to give up when she meets Zevi, but I won't say anymore about that bit of the book.

And then there's Sam. The two of them do obviously really like each other, but there's a lot of confusion between them. Sam is Jewish but he's not Orthodox, which is kind of a deal breaker for Penina. But she can't keep away from him! 

Penina also dresses modestly and is an influencer on social media with her outfits. She's really into fashion and I liked this and how it was portrayed, and how she had other people who dress modestly who followed her, like Mormons and Muslims. I loved this crossover! I liked the look at modesty within the Jewish culture. Penina didn't ever really judge how other women were dressed, though, which I also liked. 

I also liked the look at Jewish culture in the form of shabbat dinners and stuff like that. It's really nicely done and well explained if it's a culture that is totally new to the reader. I really liked Penina too - she feels like she can fix anyone and anything because she's got a really kind heart, and also because it stops her thinking of her own problems. I so wanted everything to work out for her!

I'm giving this five out of five because I really liked it. 

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