The Orchard: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : Ecco; Reprint edition
  • Published : 28 Sep 2021
  • Pages : 496
  • ISBN-10 : 0062974750
  • ISBN-13 : 9780062974754
  • Language : English

The Orchard: A Novel


A Recommended Book From:
The New York Times * Good Morning America * Entertainment Weekly * Electric Literature * The New York Post Alma * The Millions * Book Riot 

A commanding debut and a poignant coming-of-age story about a devout Jewish high school student whose plunge into the secularized world threatens everything he knows of himself

Ari Eden's life has always been governed by strict rules. In ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn, his days are dedicated to intense study and religious rituals, and adolescence feels profoundly lonely. So when his family announces that they are moving to a glitzy Miami suburb, Ari seizes his unexpected chance for reinvention.

Enrolling in an opulent Jewish academy, Ari is stunned by his peers' dizzying wealth, ambition, and shameless pursuit of life's pleasures. When the academy's golden boy, Noah, takes Ari under his wing, Ari finds himself entangled in the school's most exclusive and wayward group. These friends are magnetic and defiant-especially Evan, the brooding genius of the bunch, still living in the shadow of his mother's death.

Influenced by their charismatic rabbi, the group begins testing their religion in unconventional ways. Soon Ari and his friends are pushing moral boundaries and careening toward a perilous future-one in which the traditions of their faith are repurposed to mysterious, tragic ends.

Mesmerizing and playful, heartrending and darkly romantic, The Orchard probes the conflicting forces that determine who we become: the heady relationships of youth, the allure of greatness, the doctrines we inherit, and our concealed desires.

Editorial Reviews

"To be transported, wholesale, into a new and unfamiliar world is one of literature's great gifts, and the opening pages of David Hopen's ambitious debut novel, ‘The Orchard,' promise exactly that…. Hopen is a stylish, atmospheric writer whose characters inhabit sensuous tableaus…. All-encompassing…. [Hopen's] talent is evident." -- New York Times Book Review

"Both fresh and affecting… Essentially The Secret History set among highly observant Jewish Floridians…. Heretics, sex, drugs, and even Talmudic rituals that border on bacchanalia abound." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Audacious…. With The Orchard Hopen may have taken the boldest step yet in the ongoing turn of the American Jewish novel back to the sources of Judaism…. The Orchard [is] something distinctively new in fiction." -- Tablet

"The most brilliant novel I read this year.... A wildly engrossing bildungsroman." -- Book Riot

"A poignant and utterly devastating experience…. ‘The Orchard' is intense and deeply moving…. Its questions are not easy, nor are the answers it provides. To discover a thought-provoking young writer like David Hopen this early in his career is a rare privilege indeed." -- Anniston Star

"Powerful and stirring, like a 2020 Jewish version of ‘The Catcher in the Rye.' Structured into chapters by month throughout a typical school year and tackling the ‘majestic sadness' that is tragedy, this journal-like book written by a Yale Law School student will definitely take root." -- Good Morning America

"David Hopen's riveting debut joins the urgency of a thriller with the devastating consequence of a spiritual crisis for its hero, who is no less imperiled by his religion than by the threat of its loss. In Ari Eden's story the clash between youth and experience, godlessness and piety, individualism and conformity, will feel both devastatingly familiar and utterly new. The Orchard throws open the doors to this world, and introduces a major new voice." -- Susan Choi, National Book Award winning author of Trust Exercise

"David Hopen's ambitious debut novel combines the religiously observant world of Chaim Potok's books with the academic hothouse of Donna Tartt's The Secret History and F. Scott Fitzgerald's observations of the rich and privileged…. [A] singular addition to the world of Jewish fiction as well as a notable variation on the classic campus novel." -- BookPage

"[The Orchard] makes good on its promise to shine light on the workings of privilege in every culture." -- Crime Reads

"The Orchard is a wildly ambitious, propulsive novel touching on big, life-alterin...

Readers Top Reviews

A different look at a coming of age story as a young orthodox teenager learns about what really is important in life. Strong philosophical thread throughout which can tend to overload the reader at times. Expect to see in as a young adult movie.
J. Rose
This would have been a 5-star book had the author not descended into a "Deliverance Meets Timothy Leary" ending. It was such a contrived cop-out and quite frankly nearly ruined the book for me. The best chapters dealt with the cultural shift from Borough Park to Miami with regard to maintaining a Modern Orthodox value system, and certainly there could have been a less cliche climax/denouement.
Absolutely phenomenal book. The writing is gorgeous and the characters will haunt you. An incredible debut

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