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The Promise

(Reuven Malther #2)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  12,378 ratings  ·  613 reviews
“A superb mirror of a place, a time, and a group of people who capture our immediate interest and hold it tightly.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

Young Reuven Malter is unsure of himself and his place in life. An unconventional scholar, he struggles for recognition from his teachers. With his old friend Danny Saunders—who himself had abandoned the legacy as the chosen heir to
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 8th 2005 by Anchor Books (first published 1969)
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Gabrielle I read the Promise as a standalone, for no other reason than I picked it up in my library and it looked interesting. I have not yet read the Chosen so…moreI read the Promise as a standalone, for no other reason than I picked it up in my library and it looked interesting. I have not yet read the Chosen so I don't know if it will give me better insight into this novel once I do read it, but I do not feel like my understanding was impacted by having read the books out of order. (less)

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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,378 ratings  ·  613 reviews

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Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those seeking to reconcile religion with modernity.
Recommended to John by: My sweet mom.
For all those struggling through religious issues (especially my LDS friends) -- this book will put so much into perspective.

This book explains everything. And it has the potential to change a great deal.

I cannot recommend highly enough.
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-interest
I love, love, love Chaim Potok's writing. He has a depth that begs slow digestion and his ability to portray the evolution of cultural thought is pure genius. He uses Jewish culture as his backdrop, but the hardening of old positions vs. the embracing of new ideas is a theme that holds universal application.

This novel is a continuation of a previous novel, The Chosen. It is a story of the unlikely friendship between 2 young Jews from Brooklyn (1940s). Unlikely, because they are from two very d
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
(Some spoilers for The Chosen follow)

Once again Potok delivers a very nuanced and human story that takes place during a time of flux for America and the Jewish community (though its message transcends sectarian bounds). This book is a continuation of The Chosen and follows Reuven and Danny as they begin to enter their respective professional sphere: Danny in psychology and Reuven in Talmudic studies on the path to become a rabbi. They remain close, if busy, friends. America, however, is very dif
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, americana
I thought The Chosen couldn't be beat, but this one did it. Chaim Potok draws you into the lives of the characters; Reuven's internal struggle to figure out just "what kind" of Jew he is while still remaining true to the faith he learned from his father, Danny's empathy with Michael's suffering and his desire to prove that choosing psychology was the right thing to do... but most of all it is tragic to see how much humans tear each other apart - in this book it's between Hasidic and other Orthod ...more
Sep 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book immediately after I read The Chosen. As a sequel, the reader expects from The Promise "more of the same" or even less. While the novel is not as deep thematically and symbolically as the first book, it maintains the warmth and genuineness of The Chosen. I read this book becasue I fell in love with the main characters, Danny and Reuven. The Promise is again written from the point of view of Reuven, but seems to talk less about Danny and more about the newly introduced characters. ...more
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-booklist
I'm trying to be more selective when dishing out 5 star ratings... really, I am. But this book truly deserves every one of these 5 stars!
And I'm going to be hard pressed to explain exactly WHY! Chaim Potok is such a brilliant author and his writing is SO very elegant and layered but try as I might, I cannot put a finger on PRECISELY why his books are so special...

It deals with some topics I find distasteful (I do not like what happened to poor Michael for instance) and I WANTED to deduct stars
Shaimaa Ali
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I wanted to write a long review on this marvelous novel ..However I think I won't find enough words to describe my admiration!

This is the sequel of Potok's novel "The Chosen" Which I didn't think anything can beat it , We have the same old characters beside lots of other new scholars and their families.
Potok continues drawing his characters that you feel you already can see & feel them , his major strength point in writing is the dialogue between characters and the description of places & peopl
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
The Promise is the continuation of Chaim Potok's brilliant novel, The Chosen which I loved. But I was slightly disappointed with The Promise. It did not capture my heart as did The Chosen.

Don't get me wrong, I liked The Promise. But...

The Promise finds Danny Saunders and Reuven Malters finishing up their studies. A promise to one of Reuven's Talmud instructors and one to a very sick boy filled with rage will have have both young men questioning their judgement and test their capacity for for
Karl Zimmerman
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Potok goes digging about in such messy but realistic parts of life. I think that's why I care about his books.
His books aren't very full of action and can feel slightly dull, but the reader is rewarded with moments of both vivid beauty and pain.

While reading The Promise, I appreciated (and was thrown off balance by) how nuanced Potok's characterizations are. As a result, I sympathized with both sides of the conflict. He didn't whitewash or vilify. There were things to love and things to detest
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't love this quite as much as The Chosen. It is still so well written, quiet and loud at the same time... It is full of thoughts, feelings, culture, and history. The last half dragged a bit for me... I loved the first half tho.
Amy Edwards
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
In The Promise, a follow-up to The Chosen, we catch up with Reuven Malter as he is continuing his graduate education in the 1950s Jewish community of New York. While The Chosen focused on Reuven's life-altering friendship with Danny as the two boys found their way to manhood, The Promise deals with the clash of belief and unbelief, tradition and secularism, Orthodoxy and unorthodoxy, and supernaturalism and naturalism that hit the post-war American Jewish community. Secularism was a rising force ...more
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
upon rereading (the chosen) for about the third time and reading the sequel (the promise) for the first time, i think chaim potok is now one of my favorite authors. a great storyteller. with seemingly simple sentences and straightforward descriptions, draws us into reuven and danny's world: a time and place and religion: brooklyn, world war i and ii, orthodox judaism. books that many may not pick up for the synopsis alone, but the stories resonate because they are really about friendship (how di ...more
Hannah Grant
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Man, I don't think I've ever had a series affect me this much. The themes sink down and shake my soul.

"If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it? ... what we must have are those books which come upon us like ill-fortune, and distress us deeply, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us."
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Chosen is probably one of my all time favorite books. My mom made me read it in high school (homeschooler here), I read it again for an American Lit class in college and a third time for a book club. Not many sequels are on par with the original book but this one is. Potok writes with such simplicity, such insight. Even if you know nothing about Hasidic or Orthodox Judaism or the conflicts regarding the various traditions (which I didn’t), it just sucks you in. I loved seeing how the charact ...more
Flavia Gaia
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Promise is a novel written by Chaim Potok and published as a sequel to The Chosen, published two years earlier. It was originally published by Alfred A. Knopf in New York. Although not quite as impressive as The Chosen, The Promise is still laudable, skillfully woven to a depth which many modern books tend to lack.
The Chosen takes place in Brooklyn, New York, amongst the various Jewish sects which resided there in the 1940’s. The book begins with Reuven Malter, a Jewish student and son of pr
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another tremendous book by Chaim Potok. It is a continuation of the story in The Chosen. It was thought provoking in terms of presenting a number of challenging moral dilemmas, and I was forced to ask myself how I would deal with each scenario as it arose. The writing style is very appealing. The long carnival account in the opening of the book could have easily become boring if written by a less talented writer, but it was written in such a way that I wouldn't even think of putting the book dow ...more
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Growing up is never easy, but for Orthodox boys in the mid-20th century, it's especially hard. The Jewish people are in turmoil after the horrors of the Holocaust, some pinning their hopes on Israel and others recoiling from it as anathema. The latter is true of Hasidic communities from Eastern Europe, fleeing both European and Soviet persecution, finding safe haven in the United States. The welcome American Jews might have given to their kin, however, is worn thin by the Hasids' swelling number ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
so, I didnt realize this book was a follow-up to The Chosen. I didnt really enjoy reading it, but I did appreciate it.

this novel brought up some great questions about what parts of tradition we choose to keep, and what we forgo for the sake of modernity, and the uncomfortability of skepticism versus the beauty and comfort of blind faith. certain parts of this book were outdated (psychotherapy procedures, mostly) to the point of distraction.

beautifully written but I kind of couldn't wait to be d
Anna Bueller
Jun 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
I was outraged to find out that Chaim Potok DIDN'T write a sequel where Reuven and Danny end up making love.

Don't even bother reading this book it just makes children cry and men go to war.

What a waste.
Heather Murphy
Apr 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
the father was so wise, the best friend so smart, the teacher so imprisoned, both boys so confused, the girl so enamored, the journey full of choices
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a wonderful book! It's the best one I've read by Potok so far. So full of melancholy and feeling, so incredibly beautiful. <3 ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Potok's writing style and his story-telling - his books contain deep messages for life. I will be sad when I read his last book.
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This spring, I applied to a college where I planned to major in Talmud, got in, and legitimately almost went despite not having studied Torah since my bat mitzvah and not being entirely sure what the Talmud is. This book is that good.

Additionally, as much as Reuven's Jewish world is different from my own, it is so good to see Jewish characters and Jewish stories that don't revolve entirely around the Holocaust, even though it does explore its impact.

I tend to be a skim-reader, but I always make
Laura (Book Scrounger)
This story picks up a few years after The Chosen leaves off, with Reuven and Danny attending separate universities. It explores the tensions between fundamentalist and liberal elements of religion, and also explores in more depth the parent/child relationship, especially for those, such as Reuven's father, who are vocal and occasionally the target of harsh criticisms.

In this book, the fundamentalist aspect of Jewish faith is represented by Rav Kalman, one of Reuven's teachers, who disapproves o
Anna Vega
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! I was captivated from the very start, and became quickly invested in the story and its characters. I wanted to help Michael, encourage Reuven, smack Rav Kalman, and hug David Malter. It’s a wonderful story about thinking for yourself and not believing in something just because someone told you to.
A tremendous sequel to The Chosen.
Matt Pitts
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A brilliant, beautiful book. A little too Freudian, but beautiful even still.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yet another Chaim Potok novel I found to be beautiful & deeply moving. ...more
Leylamaría Nikfarjam
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nola Redd
Dec 17, 2008 marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: anyone willing to examine their religious standing
Recommended to Nola by: Potok
I cannot even begin to process the things I have enjoyed or picked up from this book. I marked several passages as I read that were especially thought provoking, but that doesn't even begin to cover the entirety of the novel.

I honestly felt like I shortchanged "The Promise." When I read "The Chosen," I did so with a pen and paper, taking notes, and I took so much from it. With "The Promise," I was more casual in my reading, didn't take any notes, and my understanding really suffered. I'm going t
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Herman Harold Potok, or Chaim Tzvi, was born in Buffalo, New York, to Polish immigrants. He received an Orthodox Jewish education. After reading Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited as a teenager, he decided to become a writer. He started writing fiction at the age of 16. At age 17 he made his first submission to the magazine The Atlantic Monthly. Although it wasn't published, he received a n ...more

Other books in the series

Reuven Malther (2 books)
  • The Chosen (Reuven Malther #1)

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