One of the most enduring narratives is love vs. duty. In the end, does the protagonist follow their heart and swim against the current or do they subvert themselves to fit in?
In My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok, Asher Lev is growing up in a Hasidic (ultra-orthodox) Jewish family in Brooklyn, NY. He knows that certain things are expected of him. What is not expecting and troubling is that Asher is a budding artist. His mother mostly encourages her son, while his father despairs that his son is being pulled away from faith and family.
This book is nothing short of mind-blowing. It is mind-blowing because despite the fact that the protagonist is an ultra-orthodox Jew, his journey feels universal. Asher’s slow journey toward his art and away from everything and everyone that he has known and loved feels real because many have gone on a similar journey in real life.
I absolutely recommend it.