An emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide, I Am Forbidden opens a window on a world of the strictest, most insular sect of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar where every action and word is regimented by the law and tradition.
This novel follows the younger generation of one family and how it is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing. The novel opens in 1939 Transylvania, as 5 year old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a young Christian maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young Jewish girl, Mila and helps her reach the home of Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community. In turn, Josef is “rescued” from his “adopted” home and sent to live in America with the rebbe and his new community of Hasidic Jews. Meanwhile, Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live. Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. The choices Atara, Mila and Josef make as young adults will have consequences for all of them and for generations to come.