If you’re looking for a sweet book that works to dismantle stereotypes around both sex workers and progressive religious people, you’ve come to the right place.
Plot: Naomi Grant started her career as a porn performer before transitioning to her own business providing sex education to the masses (think OMGYes.com, which if you’re not familiar with, I encourage you to correct that). She loves teaching but she’s really struggling to find an institution willing to have her, despite her practical experience coupled with a lot of education as well. Cue Ethan Cohen, a local rabbi who is desperate to revive his flagging synagogue and wants to show younger Jews that they can bring their whole selves to the synagogue, for example by offering a new seminar series on intimacy. Shenanigans ensue.
Despite what the description might hint at, there is very little conflict in this story. Naomi felt rejected by her faith because of her profession and burgeoning sexuality (she’s bi), and Ethan is offering her a path back to a faith she found solace in in a way that doesn’t demand she disavow parts of her past or her self. Meanwhile, as open minded as Ethan is, our boy is fairly sheltered. While he’s creating home for her, Naomi pushes him hard out of his comfort zone, and it becomes important growth for him as a person as well, learning to assert himself and demand respect in a way he’d felt unworthy of.
Even the inevitable conflict between more conservative members of the synagogue and this very edgy material and teacher only come to a head once and is quickly dispensed with.
This was a very sweet read and I do love seeing the kind of varied representation of Jews you see in this book that is just so damn rare in fiction. I’ll say that as a life long atheist I had a hard time connecting to some of the struggles in the story, so someone raised with religion might enjoy the book even more.