Skylar Burris's Reviews > My Name Is Asher Lev
My Name Is Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok
by Chaim Potok
My Name is Asher Lev is about, at its heart, "the unspeakable mystery that brings good fathers and sons into the world and lets a mother watch them tear at each other's throats." It depicts that unspeakable mystery in all its painful humanity, and as a consequence the book is moving and disturbing. Asher Lev is a Hasidic Jew who has a gift for painting, a "foolishness" his father cannot understand. Potok could have turned Asher's father into a villain; instead he makes him human and sympathetic. Asher ends up painting crucifixions "because there was no aesthetic mold in his own religious tradition into which he could pour a painting of ultimate anguish and torment." It's a book about what it means to be an artist, what it means not to betray yourself, and what it means to be a part of the Master of the Universe's "suffering world," which we "do not comprehend." There are so many rich themes packed into this book, that they form layers upon layers. It was a very powerful book, although there were slow moments; there were times when I felt like saying, "I get the picture. He can't stop himself from painting. His father doesn't understand. I get it already." There was quite a bit of thematic redundancy, which was at times literary and necessary, but at times tedious. Overall, however, it was an excellent book, and I intend to read The Gift of Asher Lev in the future.
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