The World That We Knew

I was a little hesitant about reading more World War II Fiction, since so much of it lately seems trite and shallow. While Alice Hoffman’s upcoming book left me with a lot of mixed emotions, the one thing I can say is that it wasn’t trite or shallow.

A Jewish mother is looking for a way to get her daughter out of Berlin in the midst of World War II. Motivated by both love and fear, she seeks out a renown rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who ultimately gives her her wish.

Together, they create a golem, w humanoid creature made of clay who will be loyal to Lea and protect her while they make a run for safety. Before they leave, Lea is given one final charge from her mother: once she’s safe, she must destroy the golem, before it becomes too strong.

It escaping Germany and occupied France isn’t as easy as it seems, and as the years pass the golem, Ava, becomes more to Lea than just a bodyguard. When faced with the choice, Lea must decide what it means to be human, and what kind of life has the prerogative to live.

I expected this book to be a little darker, honestly, and a little more mystical. I’ll be honest and say I was a little disappointed that Ava, the golem, was central to the story, but what she /was/ got a little bit lost in the story.

It had, of course, the requisite romances and rebellious characters. And Hoffman handled the various storylines well. Her writing style, a very plain, almost a child-like description (think, an introverted pre-teen telling a story, not a lot of extra detailed, just pretty straight forward, no superfluity), moves the story along, and fits with the story she’s telling.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about the end. It wasn’t what I expected, which on the one hand was good, because I expected the worst. But somehow, the way it ended almost seemed worse. I wasn’t prepared for how heavy the book was going to be, since I was expecting something akin to the recent historical fiction I’ve read.

Overall, it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, but it was a good story. But be warned, it’s not going to be a feel-good war story (you know what I mean).

Keep an eye out for The World That We Knew, available today.

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