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Book Review: My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

My Name Is Asher Lev


Asher Lev is a Hasidic Jew growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930's and 40's. His father works for the Rebbe and travels extensively, helping Jews around the world. His grandfather worked for the Rebbe's father before him. His family is entrenched in the Hasidic community. But Asher is born with a gift. A gift of art. He is an exceptional artist at a very young age, and it is all he cares about. His schoolwork suffers for it, as does his religious education. And it forms an immense gap between Asher and his father, leaving his mother struggling in the middle.

I picked up My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok after joining the Birth Year Reading Challenge. This book was published in 1972, the year I was born. I am so glad I chose this one. Potok's writing style is very easy to read. The words and the story flow smoothly as we watch Asher grow up and grow into a great artist. I felt entrenched in his struggle between staying true to his religion and community, and following his dream.

But I also felt many times that Asher was being self-centered and downright hurtful to his family. I could understand his need to follow his dream and utilize his gift for art to the fullest. But his insistence that his mother stay with him when his father went to Europe for business was extremely troublesome. I have to admit I did not like Asher and his decisions in many instances. However, I don't think you have to like everything a character does to love their story, and I did. This is an award-winning, classic book, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I will definitely be reading more of Chaim Potok's books in the future.

My Rating: 5/5

This review was written based on a copy of My Name Is Asher Lev that I borrowed from the library. This is book #1 for the Birth Year Reading Challenge and book #3 for the Support Your Local Library Challenge.

Comments

  1. This one that crops up again and again among the classics, and somehow I have missed it. Interesting that the main character isn't very likeable, but the writing is good enough to pull the reader in. Maybe that, plus the art vs. life conflict, explains its long-term appeal.

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