Title: Invisible City
Author: Julia Dahl
Series: Rebekah Roberts Series (First)
Release: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished Reading: June 13, 2014
About: “Just months after Rebekah Roberts was born, her mother, an Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, abandoned her Christian boyfriend and newborn baby to return to her religion. Neither Rebekah nor her father have heard from her since. Now a recent college graduate, Rebekah has moved to New York City to follow her dream of becoming a big-city reporter. But she’s also drawn to the idea of being closer to her mother, who might still be living in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn.
Then Rebekah is called to cover the story of a murdered Hasidic woman. Rebekah’s shocked to learn that, because of the NYPD’s habit of kowtowing to the powerful ultra-Orthodox community, not only will the woman be buried without an autopsy, her killer may get away with murder. Rebekah can’t let the story end there. But getting to the truth won’t be easy—even as she immerses herself in the cloistered world where her mother grew up, it’s clear that she’s not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep from an outsider.
In her riveting debut Invisible City, journalist Julia Dahl introduces a compelling new character in search of the truth about a murder and an understanding of her own heritage.”
We’re going to get the pros and cons of this book out of the way before diving into this debut book.
- The language is super easy to understand. There aren’t big, complicated words that you need to go look up. There aren’t technical or specialized words that only a certain few can understand.
- This book revolves around the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York. There are Yiddish words thrown in every once in awhile, but since our narrator is not keen on them, they’re all explained for us too.
- This might be a series, so we’ll get to see Dahl develop as a Fiction writer, as well as seeing Rebekah develop and grow as a character.
- There are typos! This is a pet peeve for me. I’m sure the book was read over numerous times before it was published and I’m baffled that these mistakes were not found. I stopped counting after four. Examples include using “tall” instead of “talk”, saying “adivorce” instead of “a divorce”. There were even a couple sentences that I just couldn’t understand.
- The ending was super fast. There was a ton of build-up in the last few (maybe 60 pages) and then it just ended. There was definitely a resolution and a bit of a suggestion for a series, but I wanted more explanation.
- I wanted more detail in the story overall. I can see where Dahl was going, but I just wanted more!
Pivotal Characters: Rebekah Roberts is a twenty-something stringer reporter for the Tribune. She is fresh out of college and trying to make it in the big city in a dying profession. She is half Jewish, but not familiar with the traditions since her mother disappeared when she was a baby. She was born and raised in sunny Florida by her father. Still making “rookie” mistakes, Rebekah is determined to solve this mystery. Aviva is Rebekah’s mom. While she is absent from Rebekah’s life, she still plays a commanding role in the development of this young reporter. Leaving due to religious reasons when Rebekah was a wee one, her whereabouts are unknown. Saul works for the police department with property issues, but is used as a consultant when dealing with the Hasidic community. Speaking Yiddish and being part of the ultra-Orthodox life gives him an “in” in this super secretive community.
My Story: I first got this book as a giveaway at the Reaching Forward Conference. Honestly, this book would have gone unnoticed by me if I was not given a free copy. The book is a super easy, quick read. The font is big enough to fly through the pages. It’s acclaimed by Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl as being unable to put down. I was able to put it down. While I was interested in the story, the Jewish community, and Rebekah herself, I was unable to be completely immersed. The details were glossed over. I wish there was more, as mentioned above. I definitely had a connection with Rebekah for not letting this story go while the Police Department let it be handled internally (among the ultra-Orthodox community). It really shows the power of the press in investigations, which can be a gift and a curse. On Rebekah’s journey to finding the truth and giving justice to the victim she is finding more and more about the culture her mother was a part of. And when Saul agrees to help her because she looks so much like her mother, Rebekah is constantly haunted by the linger of her absent mother.
My rating and why: I give it three stars. I liked this book, but wanted so much more. I recommend this book to those who like mystery, but don’t expect it to be a page-turner quite like Coben or as smartly written as Crichton.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Adding this book to your “to-read” list? Let me know in comments below. Like, comment, and follow.
Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!