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The Promise Paperback – November 8, 2005
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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From the Inside Flap
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Young Reuven Malter is unsure of himself and his place in life. An unconventional scholar, he struggles for recognition from his teachers. With his old friend Danny Saunders--who himself had abandoned the legacy as the chosen heir to his father's rabbinical dynasty for the uncertain life of a healer--Reuvan battles to save a sensitive boy imprisoned by his genius and rage. Painfully, triumphantly, Reuven's understanding of himself, though the boy change, as he starts to aproach the peace he has long sought....
"From the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
What makes Potok's novels so compelling is that he frames these battles with skillful and deft plotting and beautiful heartfelt language. This aspect of his work reaches its apex with "The Promise", his most brilliantly constructed novel. From the first chapter, he skillfully interweaves the characters' struggles so that they relate to each other in a very meaningful way.
In addition, not since Carson McCullers, has a writer dealt so sensitively and realistically with the mind and struggles of youth and adolescence. Potok takes great pains to delve into the troubled Michael's psyche and helps us understand his demons. His other novels also share this sensitive dealing with youth and with the often stormy relationship between parent and child.
Danny Saunders, the Hasidic Jew we first encountered in "The Chosen" is, ironically, Potok's most "enlightened" creation. His is firmly rooted in his tradtions (in this case, Hasidism) but is also open to new ideas from the "modern world". He becomes a Psychologist, weds a woman outside of Hasidism, and dresses like a modern Jew. He is the realization of Potok's wish: the ability of man to be grounded in and love his faith without being rigid and intractable and intolerant of other ideas and opinions.Read more ›
This book is absolutely riveting, and it's very hard to put down once begun. The late Chaim Potok, in my opinion, is one of the best novelists of the late 20th century. His evocation of modern Jewish life and issues is unsurpassed, and he tells his stories so effortlessly that even a non-Jew like myself cannot help but be captivated at the same time as I'm being educated. In my opinion, this book is better than "The Chosen" and nearly equal to my favorite Potok novel, "My Name is Asher Lev". I give "The Promise" my highest recommendation.
There are two storylines going on simultaneously. Most of our time is spent on the conflicts between Hasidic doctrine and modern thought. The conservatives (Hasids) are like fundamentalist Christians in the sense that they believe every word of their holy books, literally. The moderns (including Reuven Malter and his father) apply their intelligence, and evaluate what they read. Perhaps the biggest conflict is when the Malters point out errors in the holy books, and arouse the fury of the Hasids. Will Reuven still be allowed to become a rabbi, even though he is a bit of a dissident?
The other storyline centers around Danny, the psychologist, taking on his first challenge. Michael is a mentally sick little boy, and it is up to Danny to crack the case, find out why he is sick, and find a way to cure him. In today's world we would be thinking in terms of lithium and various drugs to try to straighten Michael out, but this isn't that kind of book. The answer here has nothing to do with medicine or drugs. In Potok's world, Danny must find what is troubling Michael.
One weakness of the book is that the psychology seems extremely oversimplified, and not believable. We have to keep in mind that this isn't a psychology book. It's a story. And it really is a pretty good story. Even when I praise a book, I like to present the negatives, for the sake of fairness.Read more ›
The Promise, on the other hand, breaks my heart.
I feel as though I have been put through a wringer. I could understand and relate to both R' Kalman, Reuven, Danny and Reuven's father. I was awed by the way in which Reuven was able to interact with R' Kalman. Having been in a very similar situation myself, with a teacher who was angry and cruel to me, I can say that I was unable to feel anything but anger/ hatred for a very long time.
I still do feel that anger, but now that I have witnessed Reuven's words and his father's gentle counsel, I am more prepared to deal with what has been thrown at me. Michael's catharsis, later on in the book, also meant a great deal to me, as his feelings are so understandable, and yet so very hard to express, especially if, as he writes, he truly does not mean to hurt anyone.
I feel as though I could cry. This book is incredibly powerful. The Chosen was beautiful, but The Promise is the land beyond beauty, the realm of power, the stuff of which myths and dreams are made. The Promise tells the story of our lives, of why we go on. It tells us who we are, and why we are. It tells us of ourselves.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The one thing that I really liked about this book was that it brought the lives of Jewish families more out in to the open as I learned more about what their ways were like. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Candy Arenas
How I love these books - the comfort of old familiar friends! I have read them many times through the years.Published 4 months ago by Lyn Maute
Phenominal! Have read it countless times over the years and always find new meaning in the messages, and I'm not Jewish. Read morePublished 5 months ago by capricorn
Outstanding novel. I picked this book up at the book carousel at Cam Rahn Bay in late 1960s and couldn't put it down. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Paul B.
Enlightened about the community the author wrote about. Interesting and informative.Published 8 months ago by Bart