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 rating: 3 of 5 stars
Asher Lev, now a husband and father living in France, has become a world-renowned artist, even as his art continues to grate against his Hasidic Jewish observance. He’s stayed away from the rest of his family and Jewish community back in Brooklyn, but the passing of his uncle draws Asher into a difficult and perplexing journey he isn’t prepared for in The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok.
Now, in all honesty, if I hadn’t already gotten to know and relate to Asher in the preceding novel, My Name is Asher Lev, one of my all-time favorite books, it’s doubtful that I would have stuck with this sequel from start to finish. The walk through this novel was rather dry and tedious to me at times, but I remained curious to see where this mysterious, mystical leg of Asher’s journey would lead.
Besides, I already knew how this author’s measured and understated but intentional plot development can eventually bring certain details and questions into startling light, which does happen in places in this story.
I couldn’t put into a book review all the reasons why I relate to Asher, an artist, even as I, a writer, don’t share his rather somber outlook on life or what life apparently must be for a serious creative. And for personal reasons I won’t get into, this story wound up angering a part of me—which nothing in the novel could resolve.
Nevertheless, the story served to further impress upon me my takeaways from the previous book, concerning the tension of the unfathomable mystery that can come along with a profound gift. In an essential echo of one of my takeaways from The Chosen, another all-time favorite of mine by this author: greatness is not, and need not be, easily understood.
Note to my blog readers: This book contains a minimal amount of profanity and some sensual material mostly in regards to art but some non-graphic descriptions in relation to married love. There is, however, an instance of crude sexual language (from an elderly character) that I could’ve done without. 😀
Here’s my review of My Name is Asher Lev.