Friday, April 27, 2007

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

This was a very good book. I was taken to a different world through the eyes of a Jewish Boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950's. I read one other book by this author before this one called the Chosen. I liked that book a lot more but this one really does stand on its own.

This book is about , tradition and Artists. A boy becoming an artist but not any boy, this boy has a gift from a very young age and yet everyone thought this gift was doomed from the beginning because this boy happened to be Jewish. To become an artist this boy Asher, must wrench apart his own life and the lives of this parents and community, which he loves but must almost jump off a cliff to reach his potential.

The story takes us into the mind of the artist. His experiences and his imagination and commitment and selfishness. He is encouraged at first by the great Rebbe and he gets to do an apprenticeship with the world famous Jacob Kahn. Without him he wouldn't have had a passage way opened to the great world of Art. He learns about Christians and Crucifixion and opens his scope of the world, learning about artists in the past.

His father hates all that his art needs to flourish in. There is so much contention between him and his dad. Which then makes his mom sad. Asher didn't have a happy normal childhood. His mom was very sick and his dad traveled often for his great work that only he could do and he did whatever the Rebbe asked him to do. He never had time for his son.

Anyway the story eventually ends up with Asher all grown up and barely speaking to his father. Asher is famous and his paintings sell for LOTS of money. He has surpassed his teacher as an artist. He paints a picture of a crucifixion but uses his mother and father in the picture. He has done something that observant Jews do not do. Mean words are written and spoken about him and myths are generated. He is thought of as a traitor and an apostate and a self-hater and inflicter of shame upon his family, his friends and his people. Plus Christians also hate him for using our special and to some a sacred symbol of the cross.

This was a very sad book. Very depressing and an eye opening perspective.

Broken, Healing Book

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