Welcome back y’all! Book #2 of 2023!!! Woohoo! This one sort of rolled over from 2022 because I did borrow the audiobook from the local library and I was slacking getting it done and it had others waiting for it but I digress. I did get it back this month and I did finish it finally! I just want to say that I chose this book due to watching the show My Unorthodox Life on Netflix. I really liked the show and after Season 1, I knew the memoir was coming out. Well I didn’t finish the book last year so I got to binge on Season 2 and my opinion of the show someone changed after watching Season 2 and things sort of came full circle for me after finishing the book so let’s get into it.
- Format: Audiobook
- Length: 19 hours and 11 minutes
- How I Discovered This Book: I watched and loved the Netflix show, My Unorthodox Life, which is a reality show about Julia Haart and her family.
- How I Acquired: Borrowed from the local library
- Date Published: In this format – April 12, 2022
- Date Started: November, 2022
- Date Finished: 01/19/2023
This book was a mixed bag for me. I watched Season 1 of My Unorthodox Life and was completely intrigued by Julia and wanted to know more about her backstory. This very wealthy, workaholic, mom and boss babe seems to have it all and astonishingly, she came from an ultra fundamentalist, orthodox Jewish community which had me thinking…”How?” Like, what is your story girl? I consider myself a feminist and upon watching her show, I was immediately rooting for her. I was super stoked when she revealed in the show she was publishing a memoir about her life and at the end of the season, I was eager to know more. I went into this book with high expectations. The first half of the book was very enlightening. I knew little about the workings of the Jewish community, let alone the words and holidays and rituals and celebrations. Julia did a fantastic job of explaining these things to Non-Jewish listeners. I can understand how she became a teacher in her community. I really was hooked during the first half of the book where she goes through her childhood and into her young adulthood and marriage and the strict written and unwritten rules of life as a woman in her community. The constraining way of life she was living through those years was indeed heartbreaking to listen to. Then came the second half of the book.
For me, when I started struggling to get through the book, was how she just leaves and then all of a sudden, she has wealthy men to help invest in her ideas almost out of nowhere. This is where I started getting a little suspicious. All of these miracles suddenly started happening and everyone and everywhere and everything was just beautiful and amazing and wanted to sleep with her. The goings on about brands and money and 5-star hotels and clothes and yacht parties etc. became nauseating because she is literally enjoying all of these things with supposedly no money or using these other wealthy men’s money. The name dropping became annoying too. I feel like a lot was either glossed over or left out. I was like, “what happened during the transition from leaving the community?” Nope, it’s just bam…..jet setting and shopping and thousand dollar dinners in Europe? I guess that I cannot relate much to the obvious obsession with the luxury everything lifestyle that she just seemingly catapults into upon leaving her community. Of course she does admit to being too naïve and trusting and then everyone is out to take advantage of her or sleep with her blah, blah, blah. I was struggling to get through it. One minute she is talking about having sex in front of a famous fountain in Rome with her hot, British model boyfriend (whom is much younger than her) to her male business partner (who’s money she spends steadily) is trying to control her then on to a preachy, albeit, interesting interlude into the “Adjacent Possible” theory. I was torn on whether to finish. At that point, I was like Julia….I get the whole “Woman Power” thing but you are too wrapped up in the materialistic and being money hungry. The second half barely touched on her kids. Luckily for her, she had her ex-husband stay behind to help raise and take care of the kids while he shows up as a weekend Mom sometimes while the rest of the time she is living the high life supposedly for work and to help build a better life for her kids? The kids needed her then not someday when they are no longer kids and can just get bankrolled by Mommy. The part where Batsheva (her oldest) is paid money each month to take care of her son (Batsheva’s younger brother.) had me shaking my head. Now, after finishing the book and watching Season 2, it all made a little more sense.
Her kids, minus Aron the youngest, were all working for their mother at the end of Season 1 and into Season 2. What is the term now???? Nepotism Baby?? Anywho, I was sort of burnt out at the unending hyperbole and bragginess and name dropping towards the end of the book. I do give Julia props for admitting her naivety and mistakes made because of it. The book ends abruptly as she gets a job with LaPerla and has met her now estranged 2nd husband, Silvio. There is no context on their relationship, as far as, how it began romantically and the forming of Elite World Group and so forth. Then to watch Season 2 and see the cluster that her marriage or should I say, divorce turned into without the backstory or context, left me perturbed. Although, after reading the book and her behaviors in the past with money and men….I couldn’t help but wonder, what her motives really were when she married Silvio to begin with and what a toxic individual he turned out to be. It seems like she struggles with men, money and relationships period. Could it be from her time being so brainwashed and restricted or could it be who she is and has been all along….very self-serving and self focused? The way she confronts her daughter and best friend in Season 2 about them not being present and there for her during the drama after she was fired but in reality, they were there. I see her Instagram post where she drives an ambulance to Ukraine to deliver supplies but she has to put in a plug for her luxury brand clothes she wears to do this. C’mon Julia, you totally took away the focus of why you were there in order to shamelessly promote highly expensive clothes in a war-torn country. The post has since been edited where she takes out the remark about the name brand so there is hope after all.
Back to the book….overall….the review of the book fits perfectly with my thoughts about Julia as a person. I don’t know her personally this is just based off of what I’ve seen on the show, read in her book and seen on her social media. It’s all a mixed bag. The book is very engaging in the first half. Julia is a very interesting person with an interesting backstory. The book goes into the second half just drowning in materialism and self-serving drama. Julia displays the little selfish monster hiding in her Gucci purse in the show as well. The book has some poignant moments of self-reflection and admittance of poor judgement on her part. Julia does have moments of humility on the show and in social media. Overall, I think the book is decent and I think Julia herself is decent but like the book and like most of us, we are all grey individuals…..light and shadow……..giving and selfish, moments of smart decision making and moments of poor judgement. I can’t hate on Julia or her book too much because while I do not wear luxury brand clothes or jet-set to Paris at the drop of dime…..I also have my moments of poor judgement and my moments of being determined and savvy and I also support women which is why I wish Julia the best in kicking Silvio’s butt in court and success for the future. I also hope that, as she so aptly states towards the end of her book, that she is still learning…that she learns a little more humility and that money and name brands aren’t everything. I’m glad for Julia, that she left her community, that she was able to catapult into a luxury lifestyle (despite the means), that she adamantly supports women and that she is still learning and continues to grow as a person.
Do I recommend this book? – I do, but with the warning that the first half is the most educational and engaging half. While the second half is all Me, money, sex, me, me, me, money, money, travel to Paris, travel to Italy, I was wearing this…etc.
Who do I recommend this book to? – Anyone with an interest in Jewish culture, anyone interested in memoirs, and anyone who is highly invested in fashion and luxury travel. Anyone who is truly interested in leaving an ultra-fundamentalist community….you may be inspired after reading this but this is definitely not a “how-to.” Her life is not real life for a regular person….it is a real life for a super lucky, ambitious and connected person who has means to travel extensively and meet more connected people.