Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Chosen

The Chosen, by Chaim Potok

A newly-formed book club I'm joining picked The Chosen as one of the first books we'll read.  I was happy, because it's on my CC list even though I know just about nothing about Chaim Potok.  When I started it, and it spends 30 pages on a baseball game, I was pretty trepidatious about the whole thing, but my husband said he had really liked it in high school, so I kept reading and pretty soon I was hooked.  I really enjoyed this book a lot.

The story starts in 1944, just as D-Day and the invasion of Europe is starting.  It's narrated by Reuven, an Orthodox Jewish teenage boy--he meets up with Danny, who seems at first to be destined to be his arch-enemy.  Danny is Hasidic, and a baseball game between their two teams turns ugly.  Reuven winds up in the hospital, and that's where he and Danny begin a friendship that they both need--but Danny most of all.

The amount of studying these boys do is phenomenal.  They both work really hard all the time at their studies, and Danny is a true genius.  His future is completely mapped out for him; as the older son of his community's leader, he is expected to take his father's place.  Reuven, however, cannot understand Danny's relationship with his father at all.  Reuven and his own father are very close--they study and talk together all the time--and in some ways Reuven's father takes on that role with Danny, too.  Then, as news of the Holocaust begins to come out of Europe, and the Zionist movement gains momentum, things get more complicated.

This is a truly great novel about fathers and sons and love.  And, unlike much of the material I've been reading recently, it was not unremittingly tragic!  So that was nice for me.  I would really like to read more Potok now, and I'm happy to have found a new author to love.  Book club is tonight!


I have lots more books to tell you about, and I'm still enjoying In the First Circle too, so more posts soon.

5 comments:

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

GOD I love this book. Every time I pick it up to read bits of (like when I need something to read while I'm brushing my teeth), I end up being drawn in and reading the whole thing. It's so good. I have loved it more and more as I've reread it time after time.

Jenny/Teachingmybabytoread said...

I know I've read this, but it was a while ago. Is this the one where he goes on to serve in the Korean war as a Jewish/chaplain and has a hard time being kosher? Or is this the one where he's actually a really good painter, and his dad doesn't know what to make of it?

Jean said...

Sounds like you're thinking of the sequel, The Promise. Which I need to get and read! I'm betting on the chaplain option, but I don't know.

In this story, they're both teenagers--Reuven is a mathy kid and Danny is into psychology.

amanda @ simplerpastimes said...

I read this one as required summer reading in high school, and while I don't recall much about it, I do know that I enjoyed it so much that I read a bunch of other of Potok's book. I'm not familiar with the Korean war chaplain one Jenny mentions, but the story about the artist is My Name is Asher Lev. Whichever you pick up next, I hope you enjoy!

Jenny said...

Thanks Amanda. If I only could remember half of what I've forgotten...