‘The Chosen’ by Chaim Potok
I chanced upon this gem of a tale in the course of a search for an age appropriate book for my 11 year old son. Set in the background of the United States during the second World War, era, the story starts with a baseball game between two rival Jewish schools. The match predictably ends in an injury that portends the beginning of a life long friendship between two boys – Reuven and Danny.
Danny and his father has a very strange relationship that Reuven finds to be very cold and strange. Having been brought up by a father who is very open in his interactions and is liberal in his outlook, he just cannot fathom why things are as it is with his friend. The growing friendship between the two boys is very obvious in the narration, what is hidden and what is more relevant is the strong influence of the fathers on each other. Reb Saunders, Danny’s father do not approve of Reuven’s father’s ideologies, but he acknowledges and even encourages the friendship. It is as if each father nudges their offspring towards the other, its a subtle message of love that they have for their sons, their deep longing to see the boys finding happiness in their lives.
Reb Saunders comes across as an extremely orthodox and rigid person, and this is in stark contrast to David Malter who considers his son as an equal and treats him so. The story covers a period of about six years and takes us through the coming of age of the two boys. It tells us how religious bigot-ism and changing political situations can affect even the closest of relationships and how true friendship can stand the test of time and trials. More importantly, it portrays the deep love a father has for his son, the price that he is willing to pay is that very relationship that he treasures the most.
What I loved the most is the easy connect between Reuven and his father and how he guides the confused youngsters towards their true destinies.
Verdict : A must read for young boys and their fathers , as well for mothers and daughters 🙂