chosen: danny saunders
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I recently read Chaim Potok‘s The Promise, and am now reading the book that preceded it, The Chosen. These are the first books by Potok I have ever read. I had never heard of Potok until a week or so ago. Then I read an article that mentioned Potok in passing. It was a slight reference, yet somehow I was intrigued enough to buy the book. Two, in fact.

What was the reference that intrigued me so much? While I was reading The Promise, I kept asking myself that question! Why am I reading this boring book? I’m not interested in these people! Why should I be interested in them?

I put the book down. I picked up a different book. Couldn’t get into it. Kept thinking about the characters in “The Promise”. What’s going to happen to Michael? What exactly is going on with this weird kid who seems so wound up?  What’s a beautiful Jewess doing studying James Joyce? How is this part of the story?

By the end of the book, I felt as close to these people as if I’d spent a week in their intimate company.  I also knew more than I will ever need to know about the Torah and what you have to do to pass the yeshiva examinations and become a rabbi.

“The Chosen” starts off well: a rivalry on the baseball field between two teams who’ve never played each other before, and between two boys who meet for the first time on this baseball field. Then an accident happens. A strike hits one of the boys in the face, smashes his glasses and bounces off his forehead. He’s in terrible pain. Then he’s at the hospital. Why is everyone looking at him that way? How do they make the fluorescent lights change colours like that? “Er…. you’ll be fine, kid, you’ll be fine. Jesus!” said the baseball coach. “I had never heard him use that word before, and I wondered what had made him use it now.”

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