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I'm a grad student, an avid reader, a huge nerd, fervent roleplayer, wife, cat lover, tea snob, and obsessive keeper of lists.
The Chosen - Chaim Potok Chaim Potok is a master at creating characters that you genuinely care about, and then putting them in positions where the one thing that they feel they must do is the one thing that will hurt them the most, and often, the one thing that will separate them forever from their families and heritage.

I read My Name is Asher Lev first, and I think I'm still only gradually getting over that book. The Chosen is almost as good, and probably should have gotten five stars, but Asher Lev made me walk around for days feeling like someone had rearranged my brain, and while I really enjoyed The Chosen, it didn't have as profound an effect on me - hence the four stars.

There are no easy answers in these books, and all the tension is sharply and devastatingly created to put characters on the knife's edge. Both books hurt, in a way, because you wish there was a way in which everything could work out perfectly, and yet, the unflinching view of what is and is not possible, given society, religion, culture, and family dynamics, makes that impossible.