As the title suggests, My Name is Asher Lev is related by Asher Lev, born in Brooklyn in 1943 to parents whose marriage united two prominent Hasidic families.
Asher is a very sensitive child, but he cannot communicate his feelings except through art. His earliest playmates “are Eberhard and Crayola.”
Asher’s mother, an emotionally fragile woman, likes him to draw pretty birds and flowers.
Asher’s father, principled and highly disciplined, thinks art is at best a waste of time; at worst, it’s a violation of the Law.
Mr. Lev travels as a missionary/community organizer, setting up schools in Jewish communities in communist countries.
When Asher enters yeshiva, his mother enters college to study Russian so she can work with her husband in stead of waiting for him to return.
The Rebbe, a faceless figure at the periphery of Asher’s life, arranges for him to study art with the world’s most prominent Jewish artist.
Asher grows distant from his family even as he grows mature enough to understand why they view life as they do.
Chaim Potok’s characters are complicated, sometimes puzzling to themselves as well as to those around them.
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Alfred A. Knopf, © 1972, 373 p.
1972 bestseller #9. My grade: A
© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni