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Tzippy Goldman was born for marriage. She and her mother had always assumed she’d graduate high school, be set up with the right boy, and have a beautiful wedding with white lace and pareve vanilla cream frosting. But at twenty-two, Tzippy’s fast approaching spinsterhood. She dreams of escape; instead, she leaves for a year in Jerusalem.
There she meets—re-meets—Baruch, the son of her mother’s college roommate. When Tzippy last saw him, his name was Bryan and he wore a Yankees-logo yarmulke. Now he has adopted the black hat of the ultra-orthodox, the tradition in which Tzippy was raised. Twelve weeks later, they’re engaged...and discovering that desire and tradition, devotion and individuality aren’t the easiest balance. Hilarious, compassionate, and tremendously insightful, The Outside World illuminates an insular community, marvelously depicting that complicated blend of faith, love, and family otherwise known as life in a modern world.
“Brilliant. . . . Mirvis finds reservoirs of belief, doubt, ambition, folly, lust and the rest of the human equation.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Expertly crafted. . . . Mirvis explores the bubbling tensions between the different worlds her characters straddle: modernity and tradition, the spiritual and the physical, fantasy and reality, religion and secularism, individual freedom and social mores.” —The Chicago Tribune
“Mirvis has a pastry chef's control of her material, a sureness about not overhandling the dough. She leavens utterly serious explorations of faith with chuckle-out-loud humor, yet doesn't slip into irreverence, let alone disrespect. . . . You don't have to be Jewish to love her.” —Seattle Times
“Mirvis tells the story...with gentle humor and loving attention to Jewish life. She has a talent for seeing everybody's side and making incompatible attitudes seem equally reasonable.” —Newsday
“Compelling and heartfelt…will satisfy readers curious for a true-to-life peek into the semisecret society of Orthodox Judaism.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Her chatty style and her eye for cultural contradictions are always engaging.” —The New Yorker
“It is a sin against human intelligence to use the tired phrase ‘My Big Fat Fill-in-the-Blank Wedding’ anymore, but it's tempting to haul it out one more time for this warm novel about two Orthodox Jewish families who wrestle with faith, community and each other…Engaging.” —The Miami Herald
“Makes gefilte fish of any stereotypes readers may have about Orthodox Jews….Joyously sweet-natured…and also pointedly insightful about just how complicated it is to lead a religious life.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Rife with laugh out loud lines... charming and funny. A rich, fascinating glimpse into contemporary Orthodoxy.” —The Forward
“The last generation…has seen a wholly unexpected revival within American Judaism…The novels of Allegra Goodman, Aryeh Lev Stollman and Dara Horn, among others, have explored this landscape. But none has done so with greater perception and empathy than Tova Mirvis in her breakthrough book, The Outside World.” —Samuel Freedman, The Washington Post Book World
“You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate a Tova Mirvis book…. She recreates a world of rule breakers, believers, doubters, and deceivers….A sometimes hilarious tale of isolation, faith, and destiny.” —The Jerusalem Post
“Witty and wise, Mirvis's novel explores the expectations of sacred scripture and the yearning for freedom within the parameters of belief.” —Booklist
“In The Outside World, Tova Mirvis creates a Milky Way of believers searching for God and a life of meaning....Mirvis is a wonderful storyteller and The Outside World is a charming novel with affecting characters.” —The Courier-Post (NJ)
“At times giddily humorous, at times stirring and sorrowful, Mirvis’s insightful novel is packed with convincing detail…The universal themes of growing up and choosing a fitting life to lead will resonate with readers of all faiths.” —Publishers Weekly
“With both humor and poignancy…a touching rendering for those who want to explore their own or another culture more deeply.” —Library Journal
“Mirvis writes with gentle humor…She also captures the challenge of leading a religious life: the obligations, the meaning of faith, the balance between community and self, the occasional doubts.” —The Jewish Week
“The Outside World starts off as a romantic comedy but grows into something more complicated, more poignant and more interesting…Mirvis juggles the many points of view on Orthodox life without singling out one as superior.” —The Columbus Dispatch