Janessa's Reviews > My Name Is Asher Lev

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
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's review
Aug 05, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult

A tormented but beautiful story about a gifted artist, Asher Lev, who finds himself caught between his religious upbringing and beliefs and the truth and devotion required by his art. This struggle is deepened and complicated by his father's inability to understand Asher's gift, and his mother's need to love and support both Asher and his father, Aryeh. Both Asher and Aryeh are men of vision. For Aryeh that means spreading and establishing Hasidic Judaism throughout post-war Europe and Russia, no matter the personal sacrifice it requires. For Asher it means being true to himself, to art, and to his feelings, in spite of the damage or hurt it might cause his family or religious community. Potok creates deep, complicated characters whose imperfect attempts to love and care for each other invoke a pathos and sympathy that stayed with me weeks after reading the book.

A favorite passage - Asher contemplating a painting he has done:

"I had brought something incomplete into the world. Now I felt its incompleteness. 'Can you understand what it means for something to be incomplete?' my mother had once asked me. I understood, I understood.

. . .Would it have made a difference to anyone in the world that I had felt a sense of incompleteness about a painting? Who would have cared about my silent cry of fraud? . . . Only I would have known.

But it would have made me a whore to leave it incomplete. It would have made it easier to leave future work incomplete. It would have made it more and more difficult to draw upon the additional aching surge of effort that is always the difference between integrity and deceit in a created work. I would not be the whore to my own existence. Can you understand that? I would not be the whore to my own existence."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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J.A. That's what this book is about? I think I need to read it as research for my novel-in-progress!

Kristen This is one of my favorite books. I read it in high school. So glad you enjoyed it!

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