Book Review

Rebel Daughter

Rebel Daughter

  • Author: Lori Banov Kaufmann
  • Genre: Historical Fiction 
  • Publication Date: February 9, 2021
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press

CONTENT WARNING: antisemitism, slavery, blood, animal sacrifice, murder, death, violence, death of a parent, death of a child, mention of torture, mention of rape

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A young woman survives the Jewish revolt against Rome in this stunning and emotionally satisfying tale of family and forbidden love in 1st-century Jerusalem.

Esther dreams of so much more than the marriage her parents have arranged to a prosperous silversmith. Always curious and eager to explore, she must accept the burden of being the dutiful daughter. Yet she is torn between her family responsibilities and her own desires.

Meanwhile, the growing turmoil threatens to tear apart not only her beloved city, Jerusalem, but also her own family. As the streets turn into a bloody battleground between rebels and Romans, Esther’s journey becomes one of survival. She remains fiercely devoted to her family, and braves famine, siege, and slavery to protect those she loves.

This thrilling and impassioned saga, based on real characters and meticulous research, seamlessly blends the fascinating story of the Jewish people with a timeless protagonist determined to take charge of her own life against all odds.

This came up on my radar initially as an OwnVoices Jewish book, and I was thrilled to see it. It touches on aspects of Jewish history that dramatically altered how our religion is practiced, and I was really looking to reading it. 

As soon as I started reading it, I felt as though I was walking through the streets of Jerusalem with Esther. I could tell that the author had done copious amounts of research on so many aspects of 1st century life. She brought the religious rituals, customs, society, clothing, and even foods to life. 

Esther was a compelling narrator. I enjoyed seeing her mature throughout the course of the book. She has a rebellious streak that leads her to question the way things are at times. Her innate desire to learn and exert some form of control over her life often led her to butt heads with her mother, but was indulged by her father. Despite all of this, at no point could anyone question her devotion to her family. 

This book has a little bit of everything — love, loss, heartbreak, war, and hope. Through all of it, Esther never lost sight of her beliefs and her faith, and most importantly, her spirit. I loved the story and the message. But I especially loved learning more about the history of my people and why I got that bone-deep sense of connection when I visited the Western Wall, which is the only remnant of the Second Temple which was destroyed during the war described in this book. 

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