Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok
On the library stacks: Adult fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ilana Davita Chandal is a young girl living in New York City in the 1930s. Her mother is Jewish and her father was raised a Christian by a wealthy New England couple. Because of dark experiences in their pasts, Ilana's parents turn to the Communist party as they turn their backs on religion.
Ilana lives a somewhat bewildering life. Her parents don't have much time for her. They hold loud meetings in their homes late at night where groups sing and argue. The family moves frequently. They house political refugees in their home from Europe. Ilana feels neither Jewish nor Christian, despite her aunt's best efforts to teach her about Christianity.
But things begin to change for Ilana when her father, a journalist, dies covering the fighting in Spain. Ilana's mother goes into a deep depression and Ilana begins to find solace in the Jewish faith. She doesn't agree with everything she experiences through her school and synagogue, but she finds she finally has a place where she belongs.
This is an elegantly written novel, interesting both from a religious and political perspective. I've never read a book that covered what it might be like to identify with the Communist movement in the United States during this time period. My heart just ached for sweet Ilana, a child caught in the cross-hairs of so much upheaval. I loved her bright mind and felt her inner hurt. This is a slow and thoughtful book, but well worth the read.
Also reviewed by: The Book Nest ~ Your link here?
7 hours ago