Nina Willdorf
April 02, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

No matter how well matched a couple heading for the altar may seem, the union of their families is often less than lovey-dovey. In this melancholy and subtly humorous novel, Mirvis (The Ladies Auxiliary) tackles a familiar trope framed within the Orthodox Jewish community of greater New York. As black-hat Bryan and thoroughly covered Tzippy plan for their baby-filled future, the parents begin a bickerfest about minutiae: Are women welcome to give toasts? Mixed seating: yes or no? As it unfolds, the seemingly slight story expands to explore more weighty questions of faith, piousness, and longing. Under Mirvis’ knowing and sympathetic eye, this insular sect reveals itself to be not such a small world after all.

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