- Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Fawcett (April 12, 1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0449213447
- ISBN-13: 978-0449213445
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 540 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Chosen Mass Market Paperback – April 12, 1987
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Few stories offer more warmth, wisdom, or generosity than this tale of two boys, their fathers, their friendship, and the chaotic times in which they live. Though on the surface it explores religious faith--the intellectually committed as well as the passionately observant--the struggles addressed in The Chosen are familiar to families of all faiths and in all nations.
In 1940s Brooklyn, New York, an accident throws Reuven Malther and Danny Saunders together. Despite their differences (Reuven is a Modern Orthodox Jew with an intellectual, Zionist father; Danny is the brilliant son and rightful heir to a Hasidic rebbe), the young men form a deep, if unlikely, friendship. Together they negotiate adolescence, family conflicts, the crisis of faith engendered when Holocaust stories begin to emerge in the U.S., loss, love, and the journey to adulthood. The intellectual and spiritual clashes between fathers, between each son and his own father, and between the two young men, provide a unique backdrop for this exploration of fathers, sons, faith, loyalty, and, ultimately, the power of love. (This is not a conventional children's book, although it will move any wise child age 12 or older, and often appears on summer reading lists for high school students.)
"Anyone who finds [THE CHOSEN] is finding a jewel. Its themes are profound and universal...It will stay on our bookshelves and be read again."
"It revives my sometimes fading belief in humanity. Works of this caliber should be occasion for singing in the streets and shouting from the rooftops."
"Perceptive, touching, exquisite...This is a most profound novel." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
This edition adds reviews and introductions to the book that express my feelings more completely than this short piece. This is a masterpiece which deserves the praise and honors it has received since 1967. I would suggest the book for any intelligent person of any faith.
Let me now recognize that there are some who do not like the book. That is their loss.
The book is a complex piece about choosing your path in life. The background of two jewish boys who are true friends who find each other then grow apart and reconcile is a timeless story for everybody. It is so beautifully expressed. Then add the relationship with fathers and expectations. I cannot praise it highly enough. Read the book. Then see Robby Benson's Danny Saunders. You will be glad you did.
It isn't hard reading, by any means, but it reveals a strong, strong lesson played out through the friendship of two young boys, their complex relationship to one another and within their small world, their fathers' relationship to each another (and their worlds and thought processes), and how they are viewed--and view--their school and community. All of this in such a tiny book - while nowadays books are 800 pages of nada (and I'm just in my 30's).
It's not a children's book and, while simple, it's far from simplistic. The "lesson" or "moral" or journey of the two boys is life-altering for them, and really, in its way, was for me too - because of how haunting it is, how direct its story, how the plot is the thing. We're handed the message, easily, on a platter - and that is all that's needed.
The levels of complexity are within these peoples' worlds, not wordplay or fancy writing. It's the/their real world - a world full of those who don't fit in where they "should," those trying to find their own ways, being judged by others, and pressured by their own.
Some of the themes are universal; the world in which these two live isn't. Their world is specific and small, and has to be for this story; yet, for anyone interested in this particular world--the multifacets of Judaism and its sects at some of the highest, most historic or profound, levels--the book is a history lesson. It isn't a boring history lesson but one told through the eyes of two boys finding their ways through their respective cultures and into the world. Do people [does a person] want to be the part of the world laid out for them and what is involved in leaving it? This question applies to everyone.
It's mainly their relationship to each other that reveals the information. Two boys talk and teach one another; people love and resent; one boy is uniquely pressured, the other more free. This is a book about Jewish history, about friendship, about personal choice, and the road to independent thought.
The thing that makes a character a brilliant talmudic scholar is the same character trait that makes him an independent thinker who questions the path set out for him and his duty to fulfill it. His duty and his feelings are at odds; he is a young boy and his struggles are moral, intellectual, historic, and human. His conversations with his friend are profound and eye opening, both for the characters and the reader.
Conversation and human interaction dominate a book that is predominantly a journey of thought. It's lovely. This approach leads us to feel not only for the characters but for their relationships - the boys' to one another and each to his and the other's father, as well as the bonds formed with "minor" characters.
From the first chapter, I was hooked. It begins with an edge-of-your-seat baseball game. I couldn't be less interested in baseball, but there was something going on here, a nail biter, a bring-us-in chapter that brought us into a world so complicated yet, again, written and shown to us so easily. Piecemeal, in a way - from the game to the hospital, other characters in the ward, then to their outside-the-hospital world that is the rest of the book.
It's a must read, truly. It is a must-read for Jews (I am Jewish) but also universal in theme, and an insight into particular elements of Judaism. I'd recommend it to absolutely anyone.
It's taken me a long time to write the review since finishing the book, as I didn't even know where to start. But, The Chosen is with me in the same way as the day I put it down, and as I hope it will always be. I hope not to forget. I hope no one does.