History, mystery, intrigue, and romance – what else could one want? Jenoff’s novel begins in modern day Philadelphia and Poland; it moves to early 20th century Bavaria, and then to WWII Eastern Europe. There are two love triangles 70 years apart and a beautiful, hand-crafted clock that ties everything together. It is a story of betrayal, true and false, and guilt, real and imagined.
Both adult and young adult readers may enjoy the mystery of the clock’s evidence as a defense against the horrible crime of betraying a brother and innocent children to the Nazis. The love stories convey elation, uncertainty, longing, and denial. The narrative moves easily between time periods and story lines – no small feat. The characters overall are real and sympathetic, although Charlotte could be a bit irritating. The plot is horrifying yet interesting and well worth following to the end.
The Things We Cherished is not a Holocaust novel – it is a story of real people who are flawed, passionate, and struggling to live and love in their own time.