Paying a Price {Book Club + A Give Away}

Before we begin today, I am super excited to share the next two books we will read:

In September we will read: Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis by Kimberlee Conway Ireton. AND for the first time ever the author is going to participate! One of the weeks we will have an “ask the author” and get to hear directly from her! And do not let the word “postpartum” make you think this is just for moms, Kimberlee’s context may be motherhood, but her subject is life and faith. When I loved it I had my mom read it, and sure enough, she loved it too. So, whether you’re in the throws of active mothering, we know you’re in the throws of life and this book speaks directly to us.

In honor of kicking off this book club for the fall FIVE copies of this book will be given away to FIVE of  YOU! Just leave a comment to on this post and on Friday we’ll announce the winners in The Grove. Kimberlee has also volunteered to sign copies if you want one mailed to a U.S. address!

During October and November we will read An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor — it ties in with several of the themes we will explore this fall. If you haven’t read any of Taylor’s books, you’re in for a treat. And if you have, they can be read again and again!

But today, we get to dive head in to Asher Lev!

Were you cringing as Asher’s parents walked through the art gallery knowing what was before them? I know I did. In the first post for  My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok I wrote, “There is a quote from Picasso at the beginning of the book: Art is a lie which makes us realize the truth. We’ll also return to this as we near the end of book. Keep it in mind as you read.”

How does this quote apply to The Brooklyn Crucifixion? I have ideas, but I’d love to hear yours and talk about it. What did you think of the paintings? Was there another way for Asher to convey the same feeling for his mom without using something so offense to Jews?

We know Chaim Potok was also a gifted artist as a child and wanted to be a painter as an adult and as it did with Asher Lev, it caused conflict with his father. Unlike Asher, Potok followed the urging of his family and pursued academics, only painting in his free time as an adult. He said that of all his characters, he related to Asher Lev the most. This isn’t the only way he related to Asher.

Just as Asher paid a high price for painting Brooklyn Crucifixion, so did Chaim Potok. In an interview at SPU he said:

It was not received well at all. The echoes of it continue to this day. I paid a high price for that book. But that’s the job of a writer. You pay the price, but you have to be honest. If you’re not, no one’s going to pay any attention to you. And I made that decision when I was 16, 17 years old: that I would do it to the best of my ability. And I’ve been paying the price ever since. I mean I’ve paid other prices since the Asher Lev book, but that was a particularly steep price.

I think we can relate to paying a price for something we have been called to do. What have some of the smaller, unexpected costs of your calling been?

Because this book follows characters over a number of years, we see them develop. For example, as Asher grew, the tension he experienced between art and faith moved from the external to a profound internal wrestling. How did you see Asher, Rivkeh (Mom), Aryeh (Father), his uncle, Yudel Krinsky, and the Rebbe develop? What helped form each of them?

Though Beyond the Beautiful Forevers looked more like my external life, My Name is Asher Lev looks more like my internal life. I’ve enjoyed reading it with you!

Do you think it’s OK for one religion to borrow from another? How do you see your local friends adapting some of their local customs into Christianity in a way that is releasing its God given true nature without combine and confusing Christianity with false religions.

There’s lots to comment on here and win one of the FIVE copies of Cracking Up! 



Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Photo Credit: Kevin Orbitz via Compfight cc


  1. Laura August 25, 2014

    I’d love a chance to win the book for next month 🙂

  2. Elizabeth Simmons August 25, 2014

    I love being able to participate in a book club again!  My life is so transient right now that I can’t be a part of a group that meets physically…and this club meets that need!

  3. Jennifer August 25, 2014

    “Paying the price”. There is a cost in following the call, in using the gift, in stepping outside of the box. This cannot be denied and should not be ignored and yet at the same time it should not stop us from walking in it. That does not mean it’s easy. It isn’t. It is hard, sometimes very hard and yet at times both he and we choose to pay it. I am very slowly learning that the focus needs to not be on the challenge, on the price, on anything other than God. That does not make the challenge to away, indeed sometimes I think it seems to get harder, and yet the challenge we face is to persevere and to keep our eyes on the ultimate goal before all else.

    1. Amy Young August 26, 2014

      Ah, yes Jennifer! It does matter where we focus. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Kristen August 25, 2014

    Sounds like a great book! Looking forward to it.

  5. Julia August 25, 2014

    I felt like maybe Asher should have kept the crucifixion painting for his own personal gallery.  If he needed to express his artistic vision on canvas, fine.  But it was so personal, and the collateral damage so great when it was exhibited.  It felt like he perhaps paid too high a price, and it was others who got more of the benefits of his gifting and resulting fame.  In letting the painting be shown, he betrayed the trust of his faith community and family (and the virtues they taught, like respecting one’s parents and elders), because he allowed them to be publicly humiliated.

    As for borrowing from outside one’s faith, I think it is fine and even desirable to adapt religion to the cultural context and customs, as long as the essence remains pure.  But it is so easy to slide into synchretism that people have to be very discerning.  To remain true to your faith and the virtues that it promotes while also accepting other ways of expressing it is an immense challenge, but worth pursuing.  As a positive example, I think that the African church and the African American church have done well in the area of worshiping with music and dance that reflects their vibrant cultural heritage.


    1. Amy Young August 26, 2014

      Julia … you raise good points! It wasn’t just Asher who paid, it was his family, the Rebbe, and his community. I’m trying to remember the details of the sequel, and I think his son ended up being a gift back to the community. I wonder (because I can’t remember!), how he thought about Brooklyn Crucifixions when he was a parent.

      Loved the example of African American church and worship. I agree that we need to be aware of syncretism and therefore discernment is of the utmost importance. Also problem pacing … meaning to not make changes quickly, but to be sure we understand contexts.

      I always appreciate your insights!

      1. Danielle Wheeler August 26, 2014

        Yes,  I was haunted by Asher’s tension, torn between being his true self, expressing his gift, and realizing what it cost those he loved.  It was interesting to me that he remained as loyal to his roots and upbringing as he did.  Seems so many artists (like his mentor) reject the constraints of their conservative heritage.  Asher seemed committed to living in the tension.  And then he went farther than his family and community could handle.  Now you have me curious about the sequel, Amy.

  6. Elizabeth August 25, 2014

    “I paid a high price for that book. But that’s the job of a writer. You pay the price.” Absolutely love and relate to this quote. There is so much behind the scenes work that goes into what I write, and sometimes I *know* ahead of time it won’t do much for anyone else. But it’s something that burns inside me and must be said. It can really drain my energy at times — which is why I have to pace myself. So I totally got that quote!

    And I would love to enter the drawing for the new book! It looks great.

    1. Amy Young August 26, 2014

      Ah yes 🙂 … the price of being a writer. There has been a time or two someone has tried to use shame or the rules of a culture (i.e. church, company, school, group) to not have me violate unwritten rules. But sometimes the HS says, “You must.” Not to overly pay the God card, but there are times I understand the agony of the prophets (and I imagine all reading this can relate whether you are a writer or not! This isn’t about being a writer!)

  7. Kristen F. August 26, 2014

    I didn’t read the book club book for this month, but after this post I’m tempted to go pick it up. What intriguing questions! I’d love to be able to join in for next month via the giveaway. 🙂

  8. Lisa B. August 26, 2014

    Like Kristen, I can see that this book club would be a fantastic way to share and learn from others!  I would also love the opportunity to win the next month’s book!

  9. Alex King August 26, 2014

    I’ve been sitting this one out due to scheduling but i’m super excited about the next 2 books! I read “An Altar in the World” earlier this year, but i will read it again because it is THAT good!

  10. Jennifer August 26, 2014

    “No, I insist on buying it, for I cannot present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.”  This scripture found in both 2Sam 24:24 and in 1 Chron 21:24 pops into my mind so often as we have just completed/survived our first year in the field in South Africa.  If you are a M I probably don’t have to tell you all how many tears my kids, my husband, my left behind family and friends and I have cried as my family has tried to keep our heads above water in our new land.  With God’s mercy, we are finding our way.  I tell my kids often that even though our hearts are sore, we have the joy that only comes from walking in obedience to our mighty God.  It costs a lot, and it hurts but He is so worth it.  Keep your eyes on Him.

  11. AnneJ August 26, 2014

    I need to read that next book!! I feel like that’s why I’m going through both as a new 3rd time mother AND new overseas. Would love to win a copy.

  12. Kim A. August 26, 2014

    Oh pick me!!!  I would love to participate!!!  Thanks for the chance!

  13. Melissa Toews August 26, 2014

    I didn’t read the book this month, but did enjoy following along in the discussions.  I will definitely keep it in mind for a future read.  And I am interested in next month’s book as well!

  14. Alisa August 26, 2014

    “Cracking up” sounds like an interesting read. Here’s hoping to win the giveaway!

  15. Casey August 26, 2014

    While experiencing Postpartum Depression, this mother of six just moved to a village in the country we’ve worked in for 5 years. Cracking up… That sounds about right! =) Really looking forward to going through this book with everyone.

  16. jan August 26, 2014

    I have experience in cracking up… being post partum (six times) … and having faith crises.  I’d love to read Kimberlee’s story.  And if her writing is in keeping with Potok’s quote — this will be an honest book.

  17. Becky Liu August 26, 2014

    i am really looking forward to next months book! i would love a chance to win a copy!

  18. Amanda K August 26, 2014

    I am in the throes of learning how to balance two kiddos, and also the throes of life that is a pile-up transition: new city, new work, new baby, new apartment. What ain’t new?! Maybe this book can help ensure I don’t “crack up”?!

  19. T August 26, 2014

    hi!  are these 5 copies possibly the epub versions?  cause if so, i’d love to be entered in the drawing.  if not, then i wont’ get it in time to start!  i had pdd after my first baby, and am now praying for the women who commented above that they are suffering from it.  hugs.

    1. Amy Young August 26, 2014

      Me too! (praying!) — winners choice! epub or physical book (mailed to a US address)!

  20. JulieB August 26, 2014

    I was not able to participate in the current book….but am looking forward to reading Cracking UP!!



  21. Beth Everett August 26, 2014

    Here’s to a chance to win!

  22. Brittany August 27, 2014

    I am so disappointed that I have missed out on the last two books this summer and I am looking forward to joining ya’ll for this next book.  It seems to be exactly the kind of thing that I need to read right now.  Having just lost a baby, I’m in the throes of wondering how God is going to redeem this time and struggling with wild hormones that threaten to undo me.  For the first time in three pregnancies, I’m dealing with postpartum depression and while I am clinging desperately to Jesus, I look forward to how God wants to use this next study to help put the pieces back together again.

  23. Jilida August 28, 2014

    I’d love to win a copy too. I’ve never had kids myself, but I’m really interested in midwifery and the child birthing process.

  24. Elaine August 30, 2014

    Thanks for choosing My Name is Asher Lev. I am so happy to have found its sequel, The Gift of Asher Lev too! Looking forward to the fall book club picks.

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