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Extended Audio Sample I Am Forbidden, by Anouk Markovits Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,941 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anouk Markovits Narrator: Rosalyn Lando Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.

When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters makes force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Big-hearted and surprising…I Am Forbidden whips by, its extravagant narrative steadily cast with complicated, thoughtful characters.”

    New York Times

  • “This ambitious, revelatory novel richly rewards your efforts and heralds a promising new writer.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “A captivating tale.”


  • “Markovits’ heroines are disenfranchised but resourceful, possessing an innate spirituality, despite, or perhaps because of, the freedom denied them.”

    New Yorker

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Joanne Albertsen | 2/10/2014

    " I read this in literally 24 hours. It was one of those books that absorbs every waking hour I have: even when I'm not reading it, I'm thinking about it and wondering when I can get back to it. It's a really intimate portrayal of a Satmar Hasidic family that ranges from Transylvania to Paris to Williamsburg. Like one of the reviews I read of it said, it could have been one of two easy books (the free spirit escaping oppression or the family eschewing modernity to hew to tradition), but the author treats every person (and place) with warmth and dignity. The hook of the book for me was that it took place in the Hasidic community, whose members I see in my neighborhood every day, but what's fantastic about this book is how it draws you in so close to the characters to experience their joys and struggles. The prose itself is gorgeous as well. I recommend this book so, so highly. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Kelly | 2/10/2014

    " Not what I thought it was going to be. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Maile | 2/9/2014

    " I liked it but I didn't. It was about a family of Hasidic Jews and it all seemed so extreme that I didn't know whether to believe it. The author was a Hasidic Jew who left to avoid an arranged marriage so perhaps you have to take it with a grain of salt. Another heartbreaking look at what WW2 did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sharon Pelletier | 2/8/2014

    " An excellent book, but I could not enjoy it, because it made me so angry and so wounded. A religious community in which legalism and control outweigh faith and love is the ugliest thing. "

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About the Author

Anouk Markovits grew up in France, in an ultra-orthodox Satmar home. She attended a religious seminary in England instead of high school, and left the fold at the age of nineteen to avoid an arranged marriage. She went on to receive a BS from Columbia University, a Masters of Architecture from Harvard, and a PhD in romance studies from Cornell.