Like No Other
Like No Other
Una LaMarche
ISBN 9781595146748
Razorbill/Penguin, 2014.
4 stars
Keywords: african-american-culture brooklyn family like-no-other orthodox-jewish-traditions romance una-lamarche

Like No Other
by Una LaMarche

In Una LaMarche's (Five Summers) romantic, illuminating novel, a power outage in a Brooklyn, N.Y., hospital brings together two 16-year-olds who dwell in the same geographical area yet live in different worlds.

Eastern Parkway separates Devorah Blum and her Chabad-Lubavitch community from the rest of society. When her sister Rose's baby arrives prematurely, Devorah accompanies Rose and Rose's husband, Jacob, to the hospital. Her brother-in-law's long absence sends Devorah searching for him in the cafeteria--but then the elevator goes out, and she finds herself alone with Jaxon, an African American boy her age. As Devorah considers just how many rules she's breaking (most of all yichud, as Devorah explains it, "Plop two teenagers in a confined space, let them get to talking, and sooner or later the conversation will go to a sinful place..."), she also begins to realize how others might see her. And she feels an attraction for this kind stranger. Their alternating first-person narratives reveal that they both know a relationship between them could cause problems in their families. Still, they defy the odds and plan to meet again.

LaMarche takes readers into two families with loving parents and siblings and makes plain the taboos that Devorah most blatantly, and Jaxon insidiously, breaks, including lies to cover up their plots to spend more time together. The author creates a connection between them as authentic as their bonds to their families, and through that tension crafts an engrossing novel that raises searching questions about fate and free will.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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