Recommended Age: 18+
Genres: Romance, Drama
Tags: Diversity, Family, Music, Religion
- Mature sexuality: Multiple sex scenes and descriptions of sex, along with sexual harassment.
- Moderate violence: Some physical violence, including a fistfight.
- Mature language: Use of swearing, including F bombs, and verbal assault.
“You taught me that the bravest, hardest work anyone can take on is facing their own shit. Challenging all the lies we tell ourselves. Admitting when we’re wrong. Cleaning up your own mess. You’re the queen of all that stuff.”
Naomi is at her wits end trying to break into the academic field. Despite her education and qualifications, the fact that she’s the manager of a sex positive website (and a retired porn star) is keeping her out of the game. Then she meets Ethan, a young rabbi at a struggling synagogue. He has no qualms hiring someone as brazenly sexual as Naomi. He needs more people coming to church and knows the younger generation is more drawn to the feeling of community if they feel heard.
Together, they bring people together to better understand themselves and their relationships, all while starting a relationship of their own.
“I’ve been a social pariah for many years now, and I can tell you that it’s worth it to not spend a second of your precious time on earth worrying about what other people believe you should do, believe you should be. Your body is a gift. Your life is yours alone.”
This is such a beautiful blend of love, religion, and self-awareness. Life can be so confusing but knowing who you are and what you deserve is so important. Naomi empowers the people around her, teaching them to take risks and not apologize for demanding happiness. She’s a fiery, dynamic character and compares herself to a stick of dynamite.
Her perspective on sex, relationships, healing, and heartbreak are so prevalent. The author wrote her in a way that isn’t cliché or preachy. She teaches seminars but it doesn’t feel like being lectured.
Likewise, Ethan is a rabbi and shares his views on God and life and it’s so beautiful. He knows the demands of his job, and how those demands can affect the people in his life. He’s so thoughtful with his mom and sister, and explains Judaism in a way that’s understandable without getting too technical. This book could have easily been an awkward mash-up of church and health class but it’s a perfectly balanced combination of romance, philosophy, family, and personal healing. Naomi has some trauma along with the constant harassment and she has to find ways to accept her pain and move past it while opening herself up to love. She goes on an amazing journey that’s separate from her relationship, which gives her significant character development outside of romance. Naomi and Ethan’s relationship is sexy and genuine. Naomi is so embarrassed to be caught in a crush, especially on a rabbi. She holds herself to such impossible standards, but it’s refreshing to see her open up to new possibilities. Ethan is adorably earnest and it melts my heart to see him accepting Naomi for who she is and not demanding she change for his sake. I love seeing respectful relationships. Even if there are conflicts of interests or miscommunications, as long as there is respect, kindness, and effort, I’m hooked.
You can read this book without reading The Roommate first but I did really love Josh and Clara’s story as well and highly recommend it.
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