I first read The Chosen in ninth grade English. Mrs. Meier brought the books to class, checked them out to us, and we read the opening baseball scene with Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders aloud.
This book ignited in me a love for Judaism and a desire someday to study Hebrew. Chaim Potok's writing intrigued me, made me think, and made me consider my own Christian faith in light of the Old Testament.
Of course I headed to the library to read more of Potok. I read The Promise, which is the sequel to The Chosen. But then I found Davita's Harp with its strong female protagonist, and its historical background in the Spanish Civil War and the art of Picasso...and I was even more intrigued.
Like most of the country, we went online in 1997 with America Online. I remember being so thrilled to be a part of an AOL chat with Chaim Potok. Total fangirl evening before "fangirl" was even a thing. He even answered one of my submitted questions, and I was absolutely thrilled.
Years later, I would find Potok's book Old Men at Midnight to be a bit harsher, both in tone and in content, even though it uses Ilana from Davita's Harp as the protagonist. Creatively it was masterful. But I did not love it like I loved these two books. When I think of books that influenced me and my interests, these two are definitely a part of my teenage years.
To read more of this #31DaysofBooks series, visit the introduction post.