The Romance Reader invites us to enter the Hasidic world as few have ever seen it - through the eyes of a young woman on the brink of adulthood. The daughter of a visionary rabbi who dreams of founding his own synagogue and center of learning, Rachel Benjamin lives in an insular environment, seemingly protected from the temptations and freedoms the modern world offers. As the eldest of seven siblings, she is expected to set a moral example within her family and the community: She must wear thick opaque tights with seams; she must never wear a bathing suit in public; she is not to read books in English. Rachel is a dreamer like her father; but her dreams are of the strong, confident men and the beautiful damsels in distress she reads about in romance novels she sneaks under her blankets at night. She longs to live not in the dying, desolate community of a bungalow colony in upstate New York, where she can't help but be aware of the presence and allures of the secular world surrounding her, but in Brooklyn - in Williamsburgh or Borough Park - where the Hasidic world is sufficient unto itself and she could more easily be the good Hasidic daughter she is trying to be.
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