Review: The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

Alexis:

Despite the fact that the characters were a little too distant and one dimensional for my taste, this was still a five star read for me. Hoffman’s writing is haunting, beautiful, and lyrical. I love magical realism, and this book is a wonderful mix of magical realism, historical fiction, and folklore.

The book focuses on Lea at the beginning of WWII during the Nazi regime. Lea’s mother’s one goal is to keep her daughter safe, so she does the unthinkable: finds Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi, to create a golem, a powerful magical creature/person made from clay, who is to protect Lea at all costs.

This is a Holocaust story, and Hoffman doesn’t shy away from the horrors that the Jewish people of Europe faced. But I love the way Hoffman weaves small beauties into the story, especially with the relationship of Ava (the golem) with the heron. The heron was a beautiful symbol throughout the book. Out of all of the characters, I actually felt like I connected with Ava the most.

This is a survival story, so while I prefer to get into the heart and soul of the characters, the distant POV felt right with the atrocities the characters face in the story. Hoffman focuses on what it means to be human, and what it means to survive.

VERDICT: 5 stars

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