It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again.
I kind of loved this. I don't exactly know what it is that I loved so much so I'll try to figure it out as I type. Bless you for reading this.
First of all, Judaism fascinates me. I don't know much about it and if all of the information in this novel is accurate then I learned a lot. I mean, there was history and theology and culture and it was all so interesting. Never (well, maybe once) did I feel like I was being lectured. Everything was just woven so beautifully into the story. Actually, one thing that bothered me a little about this book was that some things just weren't explained; I was expected to know simple terminology about Judaism or facts about their culture or something, which I didn't. I loved the way Potok wrote, he didn't over-explain, he expected his audience to be intelligent, his hints were subtle, his descriptions vivid without being over-the-top. It was lovely. But now I need to go read up on Judaism because I didn't get a lot of it.
Reuven, our main character, was a pretty normal guy, all things considered. I liked him but I felt that his character only existed to talk about Danny and World War II. Honestly, Reuven could have been anyone. He was so normal. The things he thought, the ways he reacted. I mean, I liked him, really, but he wasn't a stand-out character to me. Danny was. Everything about him was fascinating. I wanted to see him in all kinds of different situations, just to watch him react. So interesting. But, then, maybe that was the point of this book and Reuven. An observer seeing Danny and his family would notice things differently than Danny would; It's probably best that Danny wasn't the main character (even though it felt like he was since Danny was way more memorable for me).
I loved watching these boys grow into men. Their progression was beautiful to watch. And Danny's thought process as he begins to rebel and think for himself is so fascinating, so ordinary and yet so unique. It's just so well done.
The fathers provided a really interesting foil to each other. They were both just trying to do their best raising their sons but in such different ways. I mean, it was just so interesting.
So, wow, I would recommend this book to anyone. It's intelligent and interesting and funny in parts and heartbreaking in others. I just loved it. And it was a completely unexpected love, which is sometimes the best kind.
Sexual Content: None