By Alice Hoffman
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman is an historical fiction novel set in Germany and France during World War 2. There are a couple of narratives, but it’s predominately 12 year old Jewish girl Lea we follow. In desperation to keep her safe, her mother asks Ettie, the rabbi’s daughter to make a golem, a mystical creature made out of clay, to be Lea’s bodyguard – to keep her safe from the death trains heading to Auschwitz.
An aspect of the book I found fascinating was reading about the families, schools, teachers and nuns who kept Jewish children in their protection under extremely trying circumstances, and a relentless Nazi regime. This book is beautifully written and while at times the content is a little harrowing, it’s one of those books you don’t want to put down… or, don’t want to pick up as you don’t want to finish it! This is a story for all - there are strong male and female characters to pull everyone in.
In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being that is created entirely from inanimate matter (usually clay or mud).