I seem to have inadvertently found myself on a theological reading streak. Like The Alchemist, this book was recommended to me by a friend (although more enthusiastically), and also like The Alchemist, I picked it up for reasons that ended up having nothing to do with the book. I thought The Chosen was about baseball.
It's not about baseball.
What it is about, at its core, is exactly the same thing The Alchemist is about (which almost defies coincidence): the power of silence, listening to your heart/soul, and following your own true path. But while The Alchemist uses parable, allegory and fantastic storytelling to get its message across, The Chosen tells the same message using an opposite style, set in WWII New York, and using first person-past tense POV. This is the story of two boys brought together by a softball game; one is a Hasidic Jew and one is Conservative (I think–it's never explicitly stated whether he's Conservative or Reform). Although they live only 5 blocks apart, they inhabit completely different worlds within the same religious faith, and have very different relationships with their respective fathers.
I can't do justice to this book in my review, but it works for me so much better than The Alchemist did; while I could appreciate the beauty of the writing and the story Coelho created, Potok's creation had the profound effect on me that I think the author was aiming for. The Chosen is going to be one of those that stay with me permanently.
Book themes for Hanukkah: Any book whose main character is Jewish, any story about the Jewish people