Like No Other



Cross-cultural teen love story is heartfelt, enlightening.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will learn a great deal, particularly about Brooklyn, the neighborhood of Crown Heights, and the tension between the Hasidic Jewish community and the black Caribbean community there. The tenets of Orthodox/Hasidic Judaism are explained thoroughly enough for all to understand, even though there are words in Yiddish and Hebrew peppered throughout the story. The book describes an area of New York that's often overlooked in young adult books.

Positive messages

Although both Devorah and Jaxon make the occasional questionable decision, there are really important messages in Like No Other about family, faith, and friendship. To discuss some of the messages would be to give away the ending, but the story encourages teens to carefully consider their family's values and parents' teachings, even if they're willing to go against them. The book stresses that love shouldn't be hindered by skin color or family background, but it also makes clear that religious restrictions are harder to get around if you truly believe in them. Devorah's and Jaxon's story arcs will make readers think about how, underneath, despite outward differences, people may be more alike than they seem.

Positive role models

Jaxon and Devorah have very involved, loving, and caring parents. Jaxon's parents work long and hard and expect their kids to do the same, to excel at school and get into college. Devorah's parents value faith above everything else and expect their kids to follow all the rules of the close-knit Lubavitcher community. Jaxon and Devorah are both intelligent, kind, and helpful, but they're also questioning their identities, their futures, and what their parents expect. Both have close relationships with their siblings, and each is in love with the other.


A group of Hasidic men beat up and bloody Jaxon, whom they believe has defiled a young Hasidic woman. The book discusses race riots and other tense relations between the Hasidic and Caribbean communities of Crown Heights. Jaxon gets mad at a much bigger football player, and they almost get into a fight, but, after exchanging a few insults, they realize they can't have a real fight in school or risk expulsion.


Some religiously forbidden kissing and a couple of make-out sessions, but no sex. Devorah explains some of the many rules about when and how men and women can touch in Orthodox Judaism. Devorah has to tell her rabbi how far she and Jaxon went physically.


Infrequent strong language: "s--t," "a--hole," "f--k."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Like No Other is a contemporary romance with a definite Romeo and Juliet (or, more appropriately, West Side Story) feel: Two young people from opposite sides of a segregated New York neighborhood fall in love. A story about racially and religiously diverse characters, the book is fine for younger YA readers, even though it does contain a smattering of strong language and the occasional (but not frequent) kiss -- as well as one disturbing beating. Teen (and adult) readers will learn a great deal about Brooklyn's Crown Heights area and its two main communities -- Caribbean immigrants and Hasidic Jews -- and will ponder the truth that, although love sees no color or faith, families and friends certainly do.

What's the story?

Jaxon and Devorah live just across a major Brooklyn thoroughfare from each other, but they might as well be living in different countries. Studious Jaxon, the son of Caribbean immigrants, lives on the black (and increasingly hipster) side of Eastern Parkway, whereas devout Devorah, the daughter of Hasidic Jews, lives in the Orthodox-only part of the neighborhood. When a power outage at a local hospital leaves the two of them stranded in an elevator together, the two make an unexpected connection. Unable to stop thinking about each other, Jaxon and Devorah start a seemingly ill-fated romance that's forbidden by Orthodox law and unwise, given the history of tension between the communities.

Is it any good?


Una LaMarche's ​LIKE NO OTHER, her second novel, is a multicultural Romeo and Juliet-like story that comes at a time when diversity in young adult books is desperately needed. The book's as much a compelling study of Brooklyn's ethnically and religiously diverse yet segregated Crown Heights neighborhood as it is a touching forbidden romance. Some readers might find the romance a bit too abrupt, but, hey, if it happened in one night in Shakespeare, who can blame LaMarche for having Devorah and Jaxon fall in love quicker than would seem wise, considering all their obstacles? The two aren't actually together nearly as often as they're thinking about being together, and that's what makes their scenes with each other so heightened with emotion.

Although LaMarche employs the popular dual narration, alternating perspectives between Dev and Jax, the story often favors Devorah's experience and gives her more page time than Jaxon. It's somewhat understandable, because the stakes are much higher for her than for Jaxon (she risks expulsion from her entire community, and he only risks disappointing his parents). But it will leave his fans wishing there had been more from his point of view. Ultimately, this is a tale of self-discovery, not simply falling for someone from the wrong side of the street. Even readers completely unfamiliar with Brooklyn, Hasidim, and the history of Crown Heights will find LaMarche's thoroughly researched novel as enlightening as it is poignant.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about cross-cultural or interracial dating. Why was Jaxon and Devorah's romance forbidden? Was it about race or religion? How did the teens handle their differences?

  • Many have compared the book to Romeo & Juliet. In what ways does the comparison hold up? How is this story different?

  • What do you think of the ending? Is it believable? Is it what you were expecting?

Book details

Author:Una LaMarche
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Topics:Friendship, High school
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:July 24, 2014
Number of pages:352
Publisher's recommended age(s):12
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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