Only a genius like Alice Hoffman could delve into one of the darkest times of history and find a remarkable story about the human capacity for love. Just as France is falling to the Germans in 1941, a mother is driven by desperation to make a selfless and heartbreaking decision, forever intertwining the lives of three young women and one magical creature. Ava is a golem. She appears human, but she isn’t, and her only reason for existence is to keep Death from claiming the soul of one Jewish girl. Amid the devastation of the war, Hoffman’s latest is filled with magic, unexpected romance, and impossible choices. In addition, she asks us to look inward at our own perceptions about immigrants. Ultimately, I loved this book for the courage of characters who undermined the Nazi’s power, a reminder that people are still capable of acting with compassion and bravery even when doing so puts their own lives at risk. Long-time Alice Hoffman fans will feel right at home, and new readers will immediately want to look for all of her other titles!— Jenny Chou
October 2019 Indie Next List
“Alice Hoffman, author of numerous novels—The Dovekeepers, The Marriage of Opposites, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, among others—does her magic again with The World That We Knew. This is a story of great love and loss, a story of strong characters who, with heartfelt courage, save others by risking their own lives. The reader is taken on a journey of the world that once was—of memories of a past tainted by hatred during WWII. Alice Hoffman’s writing is passionate, poetic, and profound. This novel captivated me from the start and left me spellbound. A must-read!”
— Mollie Loughlin, The Book Vine, Cherokee, IA
In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it's his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.