"Like No Other" by Una LaMarche is a young adult story about two teens from totally different worlds who live only a few blocks apart in Brooklyn. Jaxon has coffee-colored skin and a laid-back attitude toward life. Devorah wears black tights even on the hottest of summer days and is covered from head to below her knees -- she's a member of the Hasidic community -- a group of Orthodox Jewish people who live by very strict rules and do not associate with outsiders.
When Jaxon and Devorah are trapped together on an elevator during a hurricane, Devorah learns that outsiders can be wonderful people. For the first time in her life, she begins breaking rules to see Jaxon. How is it possible that these two teens could ever find happiness together?
LaMarche does a wonderful job explaining and populating both worlds in this book -- the "other" world and the Hasidic world. Readers unfamiliar with Judaism will learn about Shabbos, a mikvah, and how Orthodox Jews live their lives.
What the reader will also see is the maturing process that both protagonists experience through the course of the story. LaMarche ably uses first person narrative to tell the story in alternating chapters from each protagonist's point of view. It's very effective, but the beginning is a bit slow while the author shows how difficult it is for the characters to get together to even talk. But this section does serve to set up the plot for the action in the second half of the book.
The ending is lovely. It's not artificially happy. It is a beautiful expression of how relationships can cause us to change for the better and change our view of not only ourselves, but the world around us. Devorah, especially, gains a sense of self-worth far beyond that which her sheltered community would have allowed.
Perfect for middle grade readers and young adult readers (there is no sex or extreme violence).
Please note: This review is based on the advanced reader's copy provided by the publisher, Razorbill, for review purposes.
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