The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
Available to LTPL patrons via Libby and Overdrive
Reviewed by Janet Blakeney
I wonder, just how many historical fiction books one can possibly read about World War II? For me, the answer is simple: an unlimited number. For such a heavy subject, I find myself continually drawn to books set in this time period. And though I must admit to thinking twice before picking up yet another World War II novel, I am glad I did. Alice Hoffman has long been a favorite author of mine. She can weave a story as well as anyone and then pull all of the seemingly unrelated details in the story all together, resulting in a satisfying, yet heartbreaking ending.
The World That We Knew, released in September 2019, is not your average World War II novel. You can count on a sense of the mystical/spiritual in any Alice Hoffman book, and this one is no different. The book begins when Jews were being removed from their homes and businesses in Berlin. A young mother, Hanni Kohn knows that in order to save her 12 year old daughter from the horrors to come, she must send her away to a safe place. She risks her own safety in going out to find a rabbi to enlist his help. But instead it is his daughter, Ettie, who conjures up the mystical Jewish creature known as a golem to go with and protect Lea in her travels to safety. Lea, Ettie, and the golem (named Ava) embark on a journey in which the expected storyline becomes a story of the unexpected and destinies are forever entwined culminating in an explosive ending.
You can find this and other Alice Hoffman novels on Libby/Overdrive. Check out the library’s homepage for details.