February 2021

The Orchard

by David Hopen

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Why We Chose It

This is a big, ambitious coming-of-age story about an intellectually curious high schooler named Ari Eden. Before his senior year, Ari and his family move from an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn to Zion Hills, a showy Miami suburb where his new peers are much less focused on studying the Torah and dress nothing like him. In Zion Hills, Ari is befriended by his next-door neighbor, Noah—the golden-boy star of the basketball team. It’s a friendship that makes no sense to Ari at first and one that places him inside the school’s most exclusive circle of charismatic characters. Over the course of the school year, the group is shaped by a series of secrets, attempts at romance, and the dark, genius mind of their sometime leader Evan, who pushes them to test their faith in unconventional and ultimately life-altering ways.

The Orchard delivers thrills and suspense. It’s both heady and playful. It’s rich with allegory. Like the most enduring coming-of-age stories, it transports the reader into an alluring world of youth that’s unfamiliar and exciting but unmistakably nails the feelings and desires that come with trying to make sense of who you’re meant to be.

Start by reading an excerpt and then pick up a copy of the novel from your local bookstore or find more retailers selling it here.

The Orchard by David Hopen

Bookshop, $25



Our wellness director interviews David Hopen—and he answers questions from our readers in real time.

About the Author

David Hopen is a student at Yale Law School. Raised in Hollywood, Florida, he earned his master’s from the University of Oxford and graduated from Yale College. The Orchard is his debut novel.

Author photo


Where did the idea for The Orchard come from?

Three interests gave rise to The Orchard. I started writing the novel when I was about eighteen, as a high school senior. I wanted to capture the splendor integral to the precipice of adulthood: the furious attempt to belong, the way ideas and relationships and shadows pierce your heart for the first time, leaving wounds that both persist and enrich. At the same time, I felt as if the curious, beautiful world of Modern Orthodox Judaism remained largely neglected within fiction. Here was this complex moral ecosystem hiding in plain sight in the contemporary American landscape. I wanted to examine this subculture and also use it as a backdrop to take seriously universal questions I hoped readers would navigate. Finally, I’ve always been enthralled by the legend of the four rabbis journeying into some mysterious “orchard.” Repossessing this myth allowed me to pursue a vision of tragic grandeur while also conceptualizing, in decisively modern terms, things like divinity and worth and goodness.



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