Sunday, July 7, 2013

Re-visiting Potent Potok

On a recent visit to the library, I was looking for a copy of Charles Portis' True Grit (see earlier review below)  Finding myself in the "Po..." section, Chaim Potok's novel The Promise caught my eye.  Having remembered enjoying The Chosen many years ago, I thought I would take on another Potok work.  The Promise is a wonderful novel in many ways - the construction of the narrative, the pace, the character development, and the deep exploration of ideas in an intellectual yet accessible manner.  I couldn't put it down, and I was very interested to learn what would happen.  The story centers around Reuven Malter, a young man living in post-WWII Williamsburg, Brooklyn, studying to be a rabbi at a yeshiva.  He has a difficult relationship with one of his teachers, Rav Kalman, who takes great issue with his way of interpreting and questioning sacred Jewish texts.  Meanwhile, Reuven becomes intertwined in the life of a troubled teenage boy, Michael, who is a patient of Reuven's good friend Danny, a newly minted psychologist.  I learned a great deal about Judaism in this novel, and it is written in a highly intriguing way.  This is novel of ideas and of great tenderness.  I will be reading more (and maybe all) of Potok's novels, based on the highly satisfying experience contained in the luminous pages of The Promise. 

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