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Davita's Harp Paperback – August 27, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Davita's Harp is a terrific read by Chiam Potok. He captures the mood, tensions and conflicts in the lives of the Jewish community in this country during the terrible times of McCarthyism and paranoia. As a Jewish child who was raised during that period, I found this to be a touching affirmation of all that we felt. Ruth RossArt Director, Ballantine Books

From the Inside Flap

For Davita Chandal, growing up in the New York of the 1930s and '40s is an experience of joy and sadness. Her loving parents, both fervent radicals, fill her with the fiercely bright hope of a new and better world. But as the deprivations of war and depression take a ruthless toll, Davita unexpectedly turns to the Jewish faith that her mother had long ago abandoned, finding there both a solace for her questioning inner pain and a test of her budding spirit of independence.

"From the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (August 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449911837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449911839
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have heard this book criticized because a male author is delving in to the mind a girl growing to adulthood up. They say that Ilana Davita does not ring true as a female character. I could not disagree more. So much about Ilana rings true. Much of her I recognize in myself. I too am the child of parents of strong ideology and had to find my own way. The cruel response of both teacher and classmates as she expressed her parents views about Stalin brought tears to my eyes. I recall a similar experience in my own life. It is a beautiful story of a girl longing for a feeling of belonging and finding it in Jewish faith. I recommend this book without reservation. Chaim Potok is a wonderful author, (he also wrote The Chosen which is my all time favorite book) and I think he created a believable, precocious, hurting girl who finds faith and healing and perseveres through hardship and injustice.
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Format: Paperback
Davita's Harp blends historical fiction, politics, religion and issues of immigration & identity together with the story of a young girl coming of age. The result is an agreeable and very readable novel.

Davita is surrounded by people who are unable in one way or another to negotiate compromise. The communist beliefs of her parents, the extremely divergent religious views of her extended family, her environment at school-- none of her potential role models offer her a strong basis for building her own identity. Eventually, however, Davita does begin to choose a road for her life and she does it with her own unique flavor and on her own terms. Her story is lovely, and very inspiring.

I would recommend this book highly as a gift for high school students, particularly girls. Davita makes a wonderful role model and it should be meaningful to young people struggling with issues of religion and identity-- any religion. One of the key messages of Davita's Harp is that it is possible to choose for a religion and community without sacrificing your other beliefs. It is unique in that it shows religion both as a steadying force and as an evolving imperfect system. I can certainly think back to a time in my life when it would have been very helpful to see a way forward that was more than the choice between inside and out.

Additionally, the period prior to World War II is a largely forgotten moment in time. The view on post-depression labor relations, the Spanish Civil War, and the treatment of the so-called premature antifascists makes for fascinating reading.
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Format: Paperback
A co-worker of mine, a roly-poly joy and delight of a human being, on the cusp of retirement, urged me to read this book. My first thought was, "Oh, Potok...'The Chosen,' 'The Promise' -- required reading for high schoolers, maybe a little dry and boring...." I told her I was reading a big, fat book and it was going to take me ages to complete (I wasn't fibbing; that was the truth). She said, "Take it. I guarantee you, you'll love it. Read it, whenever...return it, whenever."
Thank you, dear kind (wise) lady. This was one of my favorite books of the 1980s (and I read about 500 books a decade) -- I will never forget how immersed I was in the story, to the point where I lost absolutely all sense of time and place. As soon as I finished "Davita," I sadly returned it to her, for this book is a keeper. At the end of that workday, I RAN and bought everything Potok had written up to that point. They were all wonderful, but "Davita" will always be my favorite, with "Chosen" and "Promise" both running a close second.
I read everything Potok wrote pre-1990, and strongly urge you to read this author. But start with "Davita."
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Format: Paperback
Most critics that I've read often say that Davita's Harp is good, but not Potok's best. However, this has turned out to be my favorite of his novels, and definitely one of my favorite novels, period. It's beautifully written, with a sensitivity and bittersweet-ness that only Potok can create. Though it's definitely scholarly with a lot of dense subject matter, Potok doesn't make it over our heads. He was the kind of writer that seeks to make us understand without preaching, rather than to show us how much he knew, and the result is a lyrically written, wonderful story of the joys, sorrows, and trials of the human spirit
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By A Customer on January 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you enjoy delving into wonderfully crafted stories, Potok's "Davita's Harp" will not
leave you disappointed.
Potok touches on war, confusion, passion, community, justice, faith, family, politics,
death, grief, and life--all the essentials of an existential masterpiece! What makes the
book so enjoyable is that it is written from the perspective of a young girl who
experiences life's disappointments and joys, usually, for the first time. Potok invites
readers into Davita's life and subtly asks us to reflect on life's experiences we ourselves
have lived. The insightful reader will grab Potok's bait and give thoughtful consideration
to life's twists and turns and reexamine ideas and relationships that all to often lack
serious attention and effort. May Potok's portrayal of Davita's inquisitive life place you
in a position to reexamine yours.
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