I have finished Chaim Potok's The Promise. Truthfully I finished many weeks ago, but I did not blog. I saved the last 15 pages or so because frankly I just did not want to face the fact that this is ending. I truly treasured every late night I read his words and fell to sleep. I was hopeful that the story would continue; there are 7 or so more books by this author, but when I picked up his third novel I realized that this story ends and another begins.
This is a story of childhood and of growing up. Who amongst us cannot relate to that? But this story is so rich with detail and not with drama. There are television shows out there that thrive on drama and books that pull you in and keep you on your toes. Many catastrophes happen in these stories, but not here. Here there is life in it's truest form, with just the right amount of movement. I cannot help but feel nostalgic when I think over the two novels and the relationship between these two friends as they went through Jewish high school and then college. How they grow!
They grow in their physical bodies, but mostly in their minds, in the way they think and the way they respond to the world. Both boys were uniquely set up to succeed, albeit in different ways. One boy was taught through silence and through knowledge, the other love and knowledge. Ultimately the training in silence led the boy to become a man and use the silence to heal a young boy. Reuven, the second boy was taught with love and learning and I just cannot comprehend a better way of parenting and teaching. If only I could hone that skill, perhaps I can. I do not know what will become of Reuven, his story does not end, in fact it has really just begun near the end of this novel. Though the world around him told him he was wrong, he boldly stood up, respectfully in all senses of the word, and told his story. Though different than the other scholars in his methods of learning, he is respected in the end and how can he not be! The pure goodness is amazing in this character, mostly because he really could exist and wouldn't that be amazing? I wish there was a book by Reuven's father so that I could read it and teach my own children to be Reuvens! It is in a different time and a different culture, where children were listened to and respected and highly motivated to study and learn. I want that.