Wednesday, October 12, 2011

57. The Book of Lights by Chaim Potok

This book took me forever to read.  Potok's books are quite dreary and this one is no exception.  The main character, Gershon Loran, takes the whole book trying to figure out his life and what to do with it.  He goes to rabbinical (sp) college and studies Kaballah.  But you never get the feeling that he is touched by anything he learns, just amassing knowledge.  After his degree, he becomes a chaplain assigned to Korea.  This is the most interesting part of the book as Gershon shows himself to be compassionate and approachable to the men he serves as well as astute about the best ways to do his work.  At college, Gershon rooms with Arthur Leiden whose father helped build the atomic bomb.  Arthur also becomes a chaplain in Korea and fights against the feelings he has about the destruction his father helped caused.  As always, Potok's books give the reader a view into the conflicts of Judaism, but it seems his other books offered comforts from that faith as well.  I didn't feel that with this book.  Plus, there never seemed to be any resolution to Gershon's inner search.  I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters and find some of the philosophy tiresome.  Rating:  3

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