Book Endings We’d Like to Change

My Name is Asher Lev
By Chaim Potok

Artistically, you can’t trade this ending for anything in the world. When Asher Lev — a young Chasidic Jew with a preternatural gift for painting — finally presents his masterpiece, “Brooklyn Crucifixion,” the collective alienation felt by his devoutly religious family and community forces him to leave home for good. But emotionally, I always can’t help but wish that the dividing line here — between tradition and liberated individuality — had been possible to make disappear. The ultimate rejection of Lev by his own people cements Potok’s portrayal of this conflict; and, while he does it beautifully and timelessly, I dream of an ending in which personal love and creative freedom win out over the pressure of steadfast orthodoxy.
-Sam Spokony

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