The Chosen is one of the most memorable books I've read in a long time, jutting out from the rest with its uniqueness, and gripping story.
First of all I'm going to give credit to where credit is due, and point you to where I found the recommendation for this wonderful book, along with 499 others, at the Clear Water Press Good Books Guide that you can find HERE. They have an exhaustive list of their top 500 favorite books, varying from picture books, to fiction, to non-fiction, for all ages. Go check it out!
Now I can talk about The Chosen. It's hard to define exactly, but I can say it centers around two boys living in 1940s New York, both practicing different forms of Judaism, and how their friendship develops through their life. It's a story of differences, fatherhood, and friendship through trial. I've never quite read a book like it, and for that I know, this book will remain on a spotlight in the figurative library of my mind.
Reuven Malter, the main character, I find incredibly relatable. With the story being written in first person, we see Reuven's thoughts on the world, and as he often takes a step back or reflects, I found myself sharing his emotions. It's written in a flowing prose that conveys the emotion of Reuven straight to the reader, and I know it will influence the way I pen my own stories. The characters he interacts with are rounded, and extremely memorable. I cared about them all, and the tension in their relationships added a layer of depth. The antagonist most of all has such a deep character. Throughout the story, he was confusing and strange, but by the end, I understood him. I cared about him, and even justified what he did. The Chosen has a relatively small cast, but made up for it in character.
Another thing that I want to mention is how interesting this book is. It contrasts the differences of Hasidism and Orthodox Judaism in such a... dare I say educational way? I learned so much about jewish life, and the disputes and tensions between factions. It wasn't preaching the facts at me. The characters just lived life, and talked, and I was the better man for it. Except for one chapter where one of the characters dumped info in a lengthy retelling of jewish history. But it was interesting to read, so I didn't mind too much. Aside from the literal learning, I found myself thinking about this book spare moments of my time. The story and conflict is thought-provoking in ways that illustrate the bittersweets of life. Reuven's thoughtful, quiet nature connects with the message of the story in a perfect way that just makes the book a joy to read.
And then the ending ties everything together, and slams your heart. It really cemented the fact of this book's masterpiece, climaxing the conflict in such beautiful way that reveals the antagonist as human, and ties up the story in a neat bow. I found it emotional to read, and just sat in silence a minute after finishing the book. It's a lot to process, and at the end I felt like I'd just read an autobiography. The autobiography of a man who lived one of the greatest stories I've ever read.
The Chosen gets a high rating of 9.2 out of 10 and I can't say anything negative about the book besides being a tad rambly, and some mild language, giving it a 12+ age rating. I wrote this review mainly so I could sort out my thoughts on the book, but also because I love this book, and I want you to love it too. So go out and read The Chosen by Chaim Potok.