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.
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
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
Powerful, seething with pain and repressed sensuality,
and painfully honest.
Author Hagar Yanai, IDF Radio
A bold and riveting book about the complexity that
characterizes youth, female friendship and awakening sexuality. Sweeping and
Shiri Lev-Ari, Kol Israel 3
A book that envelops you from start to finish.
Author Kobi Arieli, IDF Radio
One of the best books I have read, and not only recently
but ever! … Sarah Blau is one of our greatest writers.
Author Yochi Brandes, Makor Rishon
Sarah Blau tackles [her subject] with the superb,
poignant courage and honesty of one of Israel’s foremost writers … She breathes
in myths and when she exhales them, they are transformed into a spell-binding,
exciting, frightening and alluring substance … Her writing is a unique
phenomenon in Israeli literature.
Lilach Wallach, Walla
I loved Sarah Blau’s novel. It deals with a place
and a time that intrigue me … We’re always talking about not allowing the
memory of the Holocaust to slip away from us, but what exactly does that mean?
Blau makes this topic interesting.
Author Haim Be'er, Globes
Those Well-Raised Girls tackles the idea of myth in a brave
and original manner … Sarah Blau is a radical.
Yuval Avivi, Time Out
Those Well-Raised Girls is an important polemic that openly
criticizes the priorities of religious society and the frightening attitude to
the body and sexuality. But it is first and foremost literature. Superb
Author Emily Amrousi, Israel Hayom
Blau goes to the extreme, to the utterly outrageous
extreme. She uses the heaviest weapons … unconventional weapons; that is what
makes her book refreshing … Sarah Blau is unique… This book is discerning,
articulate and suspenseful, both compelling and repulsive.
Tsur Ehrlich, Makor Rishon
Blau’s great conceit is to pour a complex
cultural-political process into the mold of popular contexts. Without saying
so, the book enters the territory of American teenage movies, and the status
wars between the popular and the rejected…Those Well-Raised Girls points
to an interesting and admirable path.
Yoni Livneh, Yedioth Ahronoth
A courageous author who does not fear confronting and
demythologizing Jewish myths … she is like Walzer and Saussure in the unceasing
clash of truth and fiction in her book, while at the same time she writes
inimitable and powerful prose.
Nissim Katz, Yekum Tarbut