The Promise by Chaim Potok

the-promiseINFORMATION

Goodreads: The Promise
Series: The Chosen #2
Source: Purchased
Published: 1969

SUMMARY

Reuven Malter’s world is changing.  The neighborhood is filled with men and women who escaped from the concentration camps.  His best friend Danny Saunders has chosen not to become a rabbi like his father but to pursue a career as a psychologist.  And Reuven is struggling in school to gain recognition for his abilities.  Then his life becomes entwined with that of Michael, a teenage boy trapped by his own fear and rage.  Can Reuven and Danny help Michael escape?

Review

Chaim Potok always writes a memorable story.  Perhaps it is no surprise then that he manages to follow The Chosen with a book just as sensitive and raw.  Now that Reuven and Danny have grown, they are following their own paths.  The way is still difficult, however, and the past can never truly be forgotten.  As Danny struggles to save Michael, a teenage boy who suffers from a secret inner rage, he and Reuven may discover that they are not so very different from this boy.

Told through Reuven’s eyes, The Promise unfolds the story of Reuven’s neighborhood as it fills with men and women who escaped from the concentration camps.  Their experiences have removed them from him and their concerns and fears to him seem sometimes overbearing.  His new teacher, in particular, sees only one right one for a person to be a faithful Jew and a scholar of the Torah.  And Reuven who wishes to use a different methodology is faced with the choice of remaining true to himself and losing all the fruits of his hard work, or lying to graduate.

Danny meanwhile lives the tiring life of a grad student as he trains to become a psychologist.  The others secretly whisper he is a genius, but Danny fears to fail since he walked away from his old life to pursue this career.  If he cannot save Michael with his unorthodox treatment, it will mean that everything he did was in vain.

Their stories gracefully intertwine with that of Michael, the son of a scholar who hates all the academics who attack his father.  He is troubled and violent, but refuses to speak.  Danny knows what it is to live in silence.  Reuven knows what it is to wonder if you can hate your own father.  Together, the three of them must find a way out.

The Promise is a subtle book.  Its story is quiet and its narrator reserved.  But it is a work that will haunt you.

5 starsKrysta 64

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