Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Review of #2 The Promise by Chaim Potok

Name of book: The Promise

Author Name: Chaim Potok

ISBN: 0-449-20910-5

Publisher: Fawcett 

Type of book: Young adult-Adult, historical, post world war 2, 1940s-1950s, Jewish

Year it was published: 1969

Part of a Series: No name, sequel to The Chosen


For young Reuven Malter, it is a time of testing. With his teachers, he struggles for recognition of his boldly radical methods of scholarship. With his old friend Danny Saunders-who himself had abandoned his legacy as the chosen heir to his father’s rabbinical dynasty for the uncertain life of a healer-he battles to save a sensisitive boy imprisoned by his genius and rage, defeated by the same forces of an unyielding past that challenge Reuven. Painfully, and, at last, triumphantly, Reuven grows into a guardian of the ancient, sacred promise to his people, while earning his hard-fought right to make his own beginning.


The characters tended to be three dimensional and are completely seen as Reuven sees them. Danny is given more humanity and is shown to be more afraid and uncertain of what to do, in particular to Michael's tempers. The adults play a huge role in the novel and aren't relegated to the background as in other novels. The adults guide their children to make decisions and play vital roles. I enjoyed seeing the interactions between the families and the main characters.


Nothing stays silent and change is inevitable, for better or worse.


This is in first person narrative from Reuven's point of view. It was quite a task to get through the book and to understand some parts of it, but its well worth it I think. I do feel that some points of it dragged on for a while and despite the explanatory notes by the author towards the technical aspect of Judaism, it was still a task to read it. I do wonder at the point of it though, and what happened to these characters in the future.

Author Information:

Chaim Potok ( ; February 17, 1929 – July 23, 2002) was an American Jewish author and rabbi. Potok is most famous for his first book The Chosen, a 1967 novel, which became a bestseller. The book stayed on The New York Times’ best seller list for 39 weeks and sold more than 3,400,000 copies. (from wikipedia)


This book is much more darker and deeper than its predecessor, The Chosen. I think I could finally understand this book somewhat, although I thought it tended to drag somewhat. Again this will receive three stars because there is a lot I am not familiar with and there is also a lot I don't understand. It does show the fascinating world of what happens when the Concentration Camp survivors migrate to America and mingle in with the American Jews. It asks important questions, although I feel it has a certain paranoia to it because they are seen as outsiders and somehow evil, as seen by Ruth and Michael Gordon.

3 out of 5 
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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