August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Kaaterskill Falls

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Allegra Goodman
genre
Fiction
We gave it an A-

For years a small group of Orthodox Jews have been spending their winters in Washington Heights and their summers in the upstate New York town of the title. Separated by dress, diet, and religious practice, they’re effectively insulated until the Bicentennial summer of 1976, when some of them raise their own flags of independence. There is teenage Renée, who befriends a rebellious Syrian neighbor; her friend Chani, who sneaks books about Israel from the library; Chani’s mother, Elizabeth, who opens her own grocery store; and the ancient rabbi, leader of the flock, who startles them all by reaching out to his atheist son. Unsensational though its action is, Kaaterskill Falls is a sneaky celebration of the American dream. A-

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