Eve Krakowski’s Coming of Age in Medieval Egypt artfully uses sources from the Cairo Geniza to reconstruct the crucial moment of girls’ and women’s first marriage, a period that she defines as “adolescence.” This study is a refreshing reexamination of some of the ideas and arguments about medieval Jewish society that S. D. Goitein (1967–93) initially presented in his monumental Mediterranean Society. For instance, Krakowski reinterprets Goitein’s conclusion that medieval Jewish families were composed of “cohesive patriarchal clans whose members lived together in extended households” (3). Using the concept of female adolescence, she reveals the importance of kin support for women and corrects previously held narratives about marriage, including the idea that there were preferences for cousin marriage and marrying female virgins.

As Krakowski states in her introduction, “This book considers how such ordinary Jewish...

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