Chayil, Eishes. Hush. Walker Childrens, 2010.
Gittel is part of the Chassidim, a sect of Hassidic Jews who live very separate lives from their gentile neighbors. When Gittel is nine, she discovers that her best friend is being raped every time her brother comes home. Her friend then hangs herself, and Gittel is told she must never talk about what she saw and that she should forget her friend. Years later, Gittel gets married and then starts having PTSD flashbacks to her friend's rape and suicide. She starts speaking out against the cover-ups of rape and abuse within the Orthodox community.
I think this is an excellent book, not only for its discussion of abuse and the subsequent coverups, but also for its description of the Orthodox Jewish community. I would easily recommend this book as a read-alike for Speak, and it will definitely be popular among my girls who enjoy reading "books about kids with real problems." The chaste way in which the Orthodox community approaches life makes even the rape scenes readable for younger teens. By the time they graduate from high school, 1/4 of my female students and 1/6 of my male students will have been raped or molested. For this reason alone, this book needs to be a part of my collection.
Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: Gittel's best friend is repeatedly raped by her older brother, but there aren't any salacious details; this same friend also commits suicide; Gittel's sex life as a married woman is discussed, but again, no details are really given even though it's obvious what's going on
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars
Read-Alikes: The World Outside and How Mirka Got Her Sword for the Orthodox Jewish culture; Speak and Sold for the topic of rape; the best combination of these elements makes Chanda's Wars an excellent read-alike.