Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: The Chosen by Chaim Potok

The Chosen (Ballantine Reader's Circle)ISBN:  0004492134
First Published:  1967
Read from June 30th to July 10th, 2011
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Few stories offer more warmth, wisdom, or generosity than this tale of two boys, their fathers, their friendship, and the chaotic times in which they live. Though on the surface it explores religious faith--the intellectually committed as well as the passionately observant--the struggles addressed in The Chosen are familiar to families of all faiths and in all nations.

In 1940s Brooklyn, New York, an accident throws Reuven Malther and Danny Saunders together. Despite their differences (Reuven is a Modern Orthodox Jew with an intellectual, Zionist father; Danny is the brilliant son and rightful heir to a Hasidic rebbe), the young men form a deep, if unlikely, friendship. Together they negotiate adolescence, family conflicts, the crisis of faith engendered when Holocaust stories begin to emerge in the U.S., loss, love, and the journey to adulthood. The intellectual and spiritual clashes between fathers, between each son and his own father, and between the two young men, provide a unique backdrop for this exploration of fathers, sons, faith, loyalty, and, ultimately, the power of love. (This is not a conventional children's book, although it will move any wise child age 12 or older, and often appears on summer reading lists for high school students.)

I read this for summer reading.  Before starting the book, I wasn't expecting much.  I'd chosen to read it out of three other books because I enjoy reading World War II era books, but I didn't really know what it was about.  The school'd copy didn't have a synopsis on it, so all I knew was what the teacher had told us:  It's about two Jews in New York during World War II.  That's not really that much information.

It was probably during the second chapter that I really started getting into the story, and it wasn't hard to finish it after that.  (Writing the papers I was supposed to was different.)  I loved every single one of the characters even Danny's father who frustrated me to no end.  They were all so well-written.

The relationships between all of the characters (especially Danny and Reuven and Danny and his father) were wonderful, and handled so well.  It was all very realistic.  Nothing in this book is perfect.  It's as if you're reading about real events. *slight spoiler*  There's no picture perfect happy ending although the ending's not sad either.  I loved that because the ending doesn't really seem like an ending at all.  These characters seem real, and you know that more is going to happen to them.  They have to continue living after this.  For them, this isn't the end.

I cannot recommend this book enough.  Honestly, I'd completely forgotten how much I loved it until I started writing this review.  I thought it was amazing, and I've only scratched the surface on everything I love about it.  I could probably rant forever about my love for this book.  Instead, I'll just let you read it for yourself.

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