A Jewish mother, Hanni, makes a sacrifice so her daughter may live. She, with the help of a rabbi’s daughter, brings to life a golem, Ava.
This is no ordinary golem in many respects; she is female, she speaks, and she has some feelings. Golems, which are born without a heart or soul, are not supposed to have feelings.
The story moves back and forth between Ettie, the rabbi’s daughter, and Lea, the girl the golem was created to protect. Ettie becomes involved in the Jewish resistance, along with Victor and his brother, Lea’s soulmate, Julien.
This unique novel which uses magic realism captures the darkest hour in human history. Demons hide in trees and angels wander the earth. And then there’s Ava whose tattoo on her arm reads “truth.” She can speak to birds and has the strength of one hundred horsemen.
Ava can peer into the future; she knows what her ultimate fate will be. The truth is that Ava isn’t made by God. In a locket given to her by her mother, Lea has instructions on what she must do to the Golem.
The magical elements never detract though from the real story–the horror of the trains, the camps, the senseless killing.
If you want to read more about this book and the inspiration behind it, I recommend this article from the Jewish Women’s Archive by Karen Kashian, https://jwa.org/blog/bookclub/interview-alice-hoffman-about-world-we-knew