Friday, June 23, 2006

The Chosen

Originally uploaded by barbfecteau.
I was going to try to find a picture of a hasidic boy to represent The Chosen, but I realized that part of the wonder of this book is that it was the random splat of a baseball into a kid's eye that set the whole story in motion.

The Chosen was fascinating to me. I have always loved books set in the ultra-orthodox community, but most of the ones I have read were from the point of view of women. Since the women don't study Torah (except in Yentl and don't even get me started on that movie...) I always wondered what went on with the study? How could they spend most of the day on it? What is the method? Well, this book answers these questions.

The study aspect was interesting to me. Although it was also confusing in parts. I had to remind myself that these boys were both geniuses and everyone seems stupid compared to them,

The father-son relationship between Reuven and his father was beautiful - as the relationship between Danny and his father was painful.

Here are some of the books I have really liked about the ultra orthodox communities:
The Ladies Auxiliary by Tovah Miris - A widow brings her children to the orthodox community where her husband grew up. Her youth and idealism cause rifts in the community.

The Outside World by Tovah Mirvis - A boy becomes fascinated by ultra-orthodox Judiasm, much to the confusion of his parents. He marries into a very strictly observant family and finds that it is not at all what he expected.

Sotah and Jepthe's Daughter by Naomi Ragan - In both of these books, girls who were raised ultra-orthodox find themselves displaced and immersed in the world outside of their communities.

Kaaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman - "[This book focuses] on the accumulation of small changes in the lives of three Jewish families over the course of two summers in the Catskills. "Kaaterskill Falls" both re-creates a special place -- a rural Yankee community enlivened once a year by the arrival of the Jewish "summer people" -- and explores different ways of negotiating a Jewish heritage of tradition and loss."
(Laura Green, Salon Magazine, 7/31/98)

Two down, four to go - I am a third of the way through the sophomore reading!

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