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Those Well-Raised Girls

At a high school for religious girls, 17-year-old Hava Keller is preparing to stage a play based on a story about 93 Jewish girls from Krakow who took their own lives during the Holocaust rather than be raped by soldiers. Before committing suicide, one of the girls, Haya Feldman, told the story in a letter that found its way out of the ghetto and into the newspapers, horrifying the Jewish world. Although it later emerged that this story of supreme chastity was invented, it became a defining myth among Israel’s religious community. Hava Keller, the heroine, is a strong-willed, independent thinker. In the play that she is planning at school, she herself will star as the girl who wrote the famous letter, just as her dead mother was supposed to do, many years before. At the time, however, the school found out that she was pregnant, and the role was given to another girl, Hani Gross. But Hani disappeared and only her underwear was found in a city park. Now, one of the actors in Hava’s play also disappears and Hava, in shock, sees history repeating itself.

Those Well-Raised Girls combines dark suspense with a tale of sexual awakening. But it also has a more serious purpose: it explores the power of myths—including those from the Holocaust—that feed into young girls’ fears and repressed desire. Blau condemns this way of exerting control and of presenting chastity-unto-death as a model for emulation. With great courage, she also exposes the emotional manipulations and hypocrisy of those who exploit these myths.

Title Those Well-Raised Girls
Writer's Last Name Blau
Writer's First Name Sarah
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Zmora-Bitan
No. Pages 253pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Neʹarot Le-Mofet
  • “A riveting book … An inspiring combination of Holocaust, Judaism, death, adolescence and erotica. It takes courage to mix everything together, and the outcome is both unsettling and comic. Thank you for a wonderful book!”

    Author Alon Hilu
  • “A decidedly ambitious and impressive book … Blau makes past nightmares resonate lucidly and clearly in the nights of here and now.”

    Ran Bin-Nun, Yedioth Ahronoth
  • “A bold and riveting book about the complexity that characterizes youth, female friendship and awakening sexuality. Sweeping and powerful.”

    Shiri Lev-Ari, Kol Israel 3
  • “Those Well-Raised Girls tackles the idea of myth in a brave and original manner … Sarah Blau is a radical. ”