Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Davita's Harp

Davita's HarpDavita'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?
Source: BookMooch


bermudaonion said...

I don't think I've ever read a book like that either. I think it would be difficult to be the child of parents who are that different.

CarrieM said...

Thanks for the review. I love Potok, and this was one of my favorites! i think it's great to get a different perspective on that point in history. It really helps show why so many people were interested in Communism at that time.

Corinne said...

I agree with everything you said ;)

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

Love Potok!!

Cam said...

Great review. I've been meaning to read The Chosen by Potion for a long time, so might just have to add this one as well. The idea of one book being able to tackle such complex themes as religious and political identity, and to it well, is pretty rare.