Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Some secrets are just too big to hide.
Interests/Topics: romance, religion, family relations, secrets, expectations, rebellion
Curriculum Connections: English, Religious Studies
Blurb: First loves are always extreme. I’m willing to bet good money that the emotional rush of being with your beloved is as intoxicating as any illicit drug. Being separated is agony, and you count the hours/minutes/seconds until your next fix. Everything else—food, family, sleep, school, friends—becomes secondary. Nothing and nobody will get in the way of your utter devotion to each other.
Unless your parents aren’t as besotted with your one true love as you. Then you have a serious problem.
Devorah, in Like No Other, can’t be alone with a boy without violating yichud. Her Hasidic faith forbids her to talk to any male other than a close relative. Her parents will arrange her marriage, just like they did for her sister, so she really has no reason to talk to a boy anyway. Not that she would; she’d be too terrified.
Jaxon, a black boy from Brooklyn, can talk to any girl he wants, he just doesn’t because he never knows what to say. Girls are too complicated and complex.
Yet Devorah and Jaxon find plenty to say when they get stuck together on an elevator during a power outage. And their families will have plenty to say about their new relationship, should they ever find out about it.
An intoxicating attraction; a reckless secret; an impossible future. Love isn’t fair.
Flavour: “I feel a flash of jealousy. Jaxon will graduate high school, just like me, but he’ll get to decide where he wants to go and what he wants to do with his life, while my parents will go to a shadchan to find me a husband, whether I’m ready or not.” (50)
“Devorah’s different from every girl—hell, every person—I’ve ever known. She has no game, no agenda. She made me feel like the best version of myself: brave and funny but not trying too hard; romantic but not cheesy. She made me feel like a good man, maybe even good enough to deserve someone as open and guileless and beautiful as her.” (86)
“‘I mean, think about him, yeah,’ Shoshana says, relaxing a little bit. ‘Pretend he’s your boyfriend in your head if you want. But you know that it can never, ever happen in real life. That’s just not an option.’… ‘Why not?’ I hear myself say. ‘What would be so wrong about it?’ ‘Are you kidding?’ Shosh asks, looking at me like I’ve just started doing cartwheels in the middle of temple. ‘He’s not one of us. He’s not even Jewish.’ I press my lips together and try to breathe deeply. What am I doing? Just as Jax doesn’t understand my world, no one I know will sympathize with this insane crush I’m harboring. I should have known better.” (94)
“I take her up to the street and say goodbye, but it’s not bittersweet this time. I know I can reach her whenever I want. I know she’s just as crazy about me as I am about her. And most importantly, I know that if I can just get Devorah away from all this for a weekend, we can figure it out, find a way to make it work, for real. Not just as some secret star-crossed fling, but forever. Out in the open. The way it should be.” (215)
“My mother falls uncharacteristically quiet for a minute, and then looks me in the eyes with a pained expression. ‘I know what young love feels like, Jax. I know it feels like you’ll never have it again, and that this is your only shot at happiness, but trust me when I tell you that it can be fleeting. So before you see her again or put yourself in any danger, you’d better ask yourself if you really like this girl as much as you think you do.’” (265)