The Chosen Book ReviewAlthough I am an avid reader of Holocaust stories, that terrible time in history is really all I know about Jewish history (besides what’s in the Bible).

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So, when I pre-read The Chosen by Chaim Potok for the co-op literature class I’m going to teach in the fall, I often found myself engrossed and bewildered.

About The Chosen

The Chosen tells the story of Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders, two Jewish, teenage boys growing up mere blocks from one another with no inkling that the other exists. . .until they meet on a baseball field, each playing on a separate team.  Danny Saunders seems to be the bully; he’s good at baseball, and he hates the other team.  When Reuven is pitching, Danny hits the ball just right so that Reuven will be struck in the head.

Reuven spends nearly a week in the hospital, and during that time, Danny Saunders comes to visit him.  As one would guess, his visit is not well-received.  Reuven quickly and angrily sends him away.

But that night, Reuven’s father urges Reuven to talk to Danny if he returns.  When Danny returns the next day, Reuven follows his father’s advice and talks with Danny.  To his surprise, he finds that he likes Danny.

Danny is a Hisidic Jew, very different from Reuven in every way.  In fact, the difference in their religious beliefs is the reason the two boys, the two teams, disliked one another on the baseball field.

Danny and Reuven form an unlikely friendship that goes on through the rest of high school, college, and even after.  Danny is raised by a very strict father who does not talk to him at all unless they are talking about the Talmud, which Danny has memorized, as he memorizes all books he reads.  Danny is a genius who longs to study psychology even though he’s already been assigned his life career through birth–he will take over as rabbi when his father can no longer do the job.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and found it hard to put down at the end.  Having said that, I think I missed a great portion of the book simply because I did not understand some of the Jewish tradition, terminology, and history.  This book spans from the middle years of World War II to the Jewish fight to claim Israel.

In just a few weeks, when our class reads this book, I will reread it and study it much more deeply, which I’m sure will help me appreciate the book even more.  As it is now, I still enjoyed it immensely.

4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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