Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Since I seem to be on a faith-based theme tonight, I'll stick with it and make my final recommendation of the day The Chosen by Chaim Potok.

I've loved this book since I first read it as a high school sophomore. It's another slow-mover, but one with a lot to say about friendship and the relationship between fathers and sons.

Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders are both Jewish boys growing up in Brooklyn during World War II - but on first appearance, they seem to have nothing else in common. In fact, the first time they meet, during a school-league baseball game, they take such a violent dislike to each other that Danny tries to murder Reuven with a ball aimed at the head. The resulting injury puts Reuven in the hospital, but that's where he learns to appreciate his repentant attacker.

Danny is the son of an ultra-conservative rabbi and is supposed to inherit leadership of the flock someday. Unfortunately for him, he's possessed of a brilliant mind and has different plans for the way he'd like to spend his life.

Sensing that Danny is close to rebelling from his father completely, Reuven's father has secretly been mentoring him for months. Now Mr. Malter tells Reuven that Danny needs a friend like him.

And so, Reuven and Danny forge an unlikely friendship, becoming close as brothers. The Chosen takes the two boys through college graduation and into manhood during the turbulent post-War years, until Danny finally has to make the ultimate decision about his future.

The sequel, The Promise is a good follow-up, but I'd be happy simply reading this one over and over again. It's a beautiful story.

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