Archive for December, 2008

Book review: The Chosen

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

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Author:Chaim Potok
Reading Level (Conceptual):Sophisticated readers
Reading Level (Vocabulary):Children 12 and up
Year of publication:1967

WAS:Orthodox Jewish boy trying to decide what to be when he grows up.

Flippant. Flippant. And, entirely unfair to this book.

It is the middle of World War II and most citizens of the US are still unaware of what is happening to the Jews of Europe. Reuven Malther, an Orthodox Jew, is severely injured in a baseball game by a ball pitched by Danny Saunders, a Hasidic (much more fundamentalist) Jew. They become friends and as a result they, and we, learn a great deal about the different styles of parenting, religious observation, and reactions to the formation of the state of Israel, among believers in different branches of Judaism.

More generally, this is a story about parents struggling to figure out how to raise their gifted sons to honor their religious heritage and to reach their potential.

And it is about gifted boys realizing that they may not be called to follow in their fathers' footsteps.

"A very sad book," my 12 yr. old says. "But well worth reading." My other daughter called me from college to recommend the "sequel" (It's not about the same characters, but the themes are similar): My Name is Ascher Lev.

If you found this review helpful and/or interesting, consider supporting our book habit: Buy this book!: Chosen, The