My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The fact is that gossip, rumors, mythmaking, and news stories are not appropriate vehicles for the communication of nuances of truth… So it is time for the defense, for a long session in demythology. But I will not apologize. It is absurd to apologize for a mystery.

“Here we go. Already,” or something similar came out of my mouth after I read those lines, not even past the first page of My Name is Asher Lev by author Chaim Potok.

Remembering The Chosen all too well, one of my all-time favorite books by the same author, I expected this novel might take me on another profound journey. And there it started from the first page. Already.

The coming-of-age story of Asher, who begins discovering a mystery from his childhood: his urgent drive to draw and paint, even as his gift as an artist grates against his Hasidic Jewish observance. A story about the sacred, soulish tension between genius and responsibility, between the need to please and the calling to be.

A story about navigating relationships when you have no easy explanations for the people you love and respect.

No, I don’t read many novels this stark and somber in their beauty. Yes, you do have to have an ear for nuance and the power of what’s unsaid to hear and appreciate the music and poetry behind a narrative like this. And, no, even with my passion for arts and creation, I don’t interpret all the matters here in the same way Asher does.

But I get it. I empathize. And it’s a story that empathizes with me and the kind of impossible pain it’s taken to make me into the creative I am, and am becoming.

A fine, raw, magnificent novel. I plan on reading more about Asher Lev.

____________

It was back before I said much in reviews, but I meant every one of my few words about The Chosen.

 

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