February 20, 2010

Book Review: The Chosen by Chaim Potok

I feel a bit intimidated about reviewing this book. On the surface, it is just the story of two jewish boys and their friendship. The characters, their relationships, and their respective jewish congregations are so complex, though.

The book opens like this: "For the first fifteen years of our lives, Danny and I lived within five blocks of each other and neither of us knew of the other's existence." Danny and Reuven are both the sons of great jewish leaders and scholars in Brooklyn. However, Danny is Hasidic and heir to be their next leader. Reuven and his father are "followers of the commandments" but are secular jews. They do not wear the ornate attire and hairdos of the Hasidic jews.

The two boys would never have become friends, except Danny throws a baseball that hits Reuven in the eye. Reuven, nearly blinded by the injury, is not happy when Danny visits him in the Eye Ward of the hospital, but Danny persists. The friendship that develops is deep, lasting, complex, and at times, extremely difficult.

It is interesting to watch how each boy studies, learns, and becomes a man. I highly recommend this book to older teens and adults. Its themes are timeless, its lessons invaluable. It is a classic. The amazing thing is that it is realistic fiction without an ounce of romantic love, and I still loved it. That tells me how well-written it is.

Emily is an aspiring children's author who loves books more than chocolate cake. She has hundreds of reviews of good, clean books at her blog, Homespun Light, where she also blabs about homeschool, family, and crafting.

3 comments - Add a comment below -:

Mark and Kari said...

Thanks for your review! I think I'm going to have to read this!

Jeanine said...

This book changed me. Like adjusting the angel of a flight path, one significant adjustment changes your direction quite a bit in the long run. This is how this book effected me. It gave me a deeper understanding of Jewish culture, greater respect for the scriptures, and a strong desire to memorize them. It gave me a better understanding of compassion. It gave me a stronger desire for education. My family is studying the Old Testament this year, I study it differently now, and even understand it differently. This is a great book.

Googs said...

Just wanted to say that I agree with your post and review. Amazing story! I would also suggest reading the next book, The Promise. Also Potok's autobiography, In The Beginning is also really good and enlightening.