The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Review by me, Emily
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.