BOOK REVIEW – The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom by Beth Miller

The 2 hearts of Eliza BloomI have to be completely honest … I’m really not sure about this one!! I don’t think I’ve ever been so unsure about how I feel about a book. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it. I found parts of it to be rather distasteful and I know for sure that many people will find it extremely offensive – I’d recommend that those people steer clear of it completely.
I’m Jewish, classified as Orthodox – certainly nowhere near the ‘Orthodox’ that Aliza and her family are in this book. I’m probably more what’s called ‘Modern Orthodox’. But I’m very much aware of the type of people described here. Is this book far-fetched? Not as much as you’d think. Could something like this happen? Yes absolutely? Does this happen? Yes, absolutely! Is it spoken about openly? No, absolutely not!
Children brought up in such sheltered environments either love it (mostly they do – they don’t know any other way) or they rebel (fewer than you’d think) – sometimes they return and sometimes (I’ll admit, rarely) they might even be lucky enough to strike the type of balance that’s described in this book.
Aliza, who becomes Eliza, because her husband Alex pronounces her name incorrectly when he first meets her, and she asks him to keep it that way, doesn’t jump into her new life with completely reckless abandon (as some reviewers will have you believe). At first she tiptoes away slowly, quietly and rather shyly. Yes, eventually she does take a huge, giant leap, but initially her steps are rather restrained.
Even once she has left the fold, and there’s no mistaking the fact that she has most definitely made the boldest of statements by publicly leaving her family and her faith (and her fiance!), she still attempts to straddle the two lives she finds herself living – when it comes to the way she dresses and eats and even in her sleeping arrangements with her new flatmate and soon-to-be husband! And she certainly didn’t turn her back on everything she knew, never to return. She missed her family and her best friend desperately. Leaving one thing for another doesn’t mean that you simply forget what you left, I strongly feel that just because you left by choice, you are still entitled to feel pain about your actions and about who and what you’ve left behind.
Alex is not a monster – he did not actively seek to lure Aliza away from all that she knew and was comfortable with. Yes, he wanted to show her that there is a whole new world out there that was in direct conflict to all that she’d been taught, but simply because he wanted to share the freedom that he has enjoyed for his entire life, with the person that he now loved! Was it right or wrong? To answer that is an entire debate on whether the premise of the whole book is right or wrong – it’s a bit much to go into all of that in a book review!
Is this book a love story? I’d say it is, but more than it being about Aliza and who she chooses to marry, I’d say it’s about Aliza and Eliza and how she discovers who she really is and how she learns to love who she becomes.

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