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THE WORLD THAT WE KNEW by Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman weaves her signature magical realism into this WWII novel without making it seem too frivolous.  In Berlin, Hanni is desperate to get her 12-yer-old daughter Lea to Paris, and the rabbi’s daughter Ettie, who also wants to escape, is willing and able to create a golem—a mythical person formed from clay.  The golem, whom they name Ava, is to be Lea’s protector in her perilous journey.  Hanni must stay behind to take care of her invalid mother, where neither woman is likely to survive the Holocaust.  Lea and Ava arrive at a distant cousin’s home in Paris, where Lea becomes very close to Julien, a boy of about her same age.  The novel follows the paths of Ettie, Lea, Julien, his brother Victor, and Ava, who is not supposed to have a soul but becomes more human the longer she remains on earth.  More importantly, she becomes attached to this world, although it is her duty to become clay again, once Lea is safe.  I particularly enjoyed the first part of this novel, but as the characters became separated, I had trouble keeping up with the farmers, priests, and doctors who helped them stay alive.  Ava waivers only once in her devotion to Lea, and that mistake threatens to cause a rift between the two.  Her character is obviously mystical, and there are herons with exceptional capabilities, but the other characters and the plot are very real and very poignant.  There was one aspect of the ending that I did not quite understand, but Ava’s reluctance to leave our beautiful world was a reminder of how lucky we are to be alive on this magnificent planet.


This post first appeared on Patti's Pages, please read the originial post: here

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THE WORLD THAT WE KNEW by Alice Hoffman

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