Book Review: Unmatched

Unmatched- An Orthodox Jewish Woman’s Mystifying Journey to Find Marriage and Meaning by Sarah Lavane

“Once upon a time,” as the ubiquitous fairy tale states, a young girl begins a search for her prince, or in Sarah Lavane’s case, her beshert, her intended. A lovely story then unfolds, with the young lass encountering obstacles on her journey to love and marriage…and then “they lived happily ever after.” 

Fairy tales overcome obstacles and end well; real life can present obstacles upon obstacles with nary a prince or princess in sight. “I thought of everything I had done to get a step closer- applications, fees, Shabbatonim, shadchanim, parties, lectures…Tehillim, tzedakah to poor brides…discovering human nature in all its many, many shades.” 

In Unmatched, Sarah Lavane chronicles her introductions, her dates, her trials and tribulations as she searches for that magic someone. At a wedding she meets “East (note: she wisely, and often comically, attaches nicknames to her aspiring princes)… a fellow who seemed completely enamored with me.” East takes six months to find the courage to call; “West” calls immediately thereafter after his own six month hesitation. Her immediate reaction is that “God has a sense of humor.” “Swell” asked for a date, mentioned the “E” word (hint: Engagement!”) and then roller-coasted down to the clincher: “You’re not religious enough for me.” The author also has a sense of humor: “Men are like a pair of high-heeled shoes. They could make women feel beautiful and pained at the same time.”

Sarah Lavane is a whiz with descriptions of “Them”: the men were “shy, talkative, awkward, pleasant, boring, exciting, disheveled, sharp, cheap, extravagant, nice, angry, violent or just plain nuts.” She met “Them” while dating in her twenties and into her thirties, still not married at age 35. Or at age 40, when she decided to cast a much wider net and met ‘GothGuy,” who ultimately came and went like the rest of “Them.”

I have suffered through ill-fitting high heeled shoes (see a previous review when I mentioned stuffing my feet into lovely but too small high heels for my son’s wedding), and through the angst of waiting for my own beshert, who arrived compliments of my mother waving my dorm phone number around at a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah. I also contemplated waving my children’s number around to capture their beshert; fortunately, Hashem delivered my wonderful son-in-law and daughter-in-law without my embarrassing intervention.

Sarah Lavane is still striving toward that happily ever after. “I struggle, fall, pull myself up again. I’ve come to realize that I cannot choose my fate, but I can choose how I react to it…I can choose my ever after.” We have all met “Them” and “Swell” and “East” and “West” and all points in between; we have all wondered where he or she is and what is he/she waiting for- just call/text/email me already! Sarah (I feel I know her quite well after reading about her continuing journey) is still looking, with faith intact, with a sense of humor, and with a wonderful way with words. Wishing her and all others still searching a very happy ever after!

Randy Rubinstein lives in Sharon, Massachusetts