Memories of Glass

Written by Melanie Dobson
Review by Bryan Dumas

1942, Amsterdam. Josie is a young student working with her brother to move money in support of the Dutch underground. Their childhood friend Eliese has returned to Amsterdam from London with her young son in order to help her father. It’s a calculated risk as Eliese is Jewish and the Nazis control the city. Soon, Eliese, thinking she’s protected by the Puttkammer list—a list protecting certain Jews from Nazis expulsion—is put to work registering Jews at a converted theater for their deportation to Westerbork and eventually to the German camps. Fearing for her son, and the children brought in, Eliese and Josie scheme to help save as many children as possible.

Present day. Ava Drake is the outsider in the wealthy Kingston family clan. Only the matriarch, Marcella, trusts her and protects her from the rest of the family. Ava is the director of the family’s philanthropic foundation. A foundation her uncles and cousins feel is wasting their vast inheritance. Ava travels to Uganda to evaluate a grant request and meets Landon West, a man dedicated to helping the people of Uganda.

Dobson pulls from the real story of Walter Süskind and the Hollandsche Schouwburg and the Teachers College and crèche across the street that secreted hundreds of Jewish children to safety during the war. Cleverly infusing Eliese and Josie into this, Dobson weaves a creative thread into the future to tie the fictional Kingston family and Ava to Eliese and Josie. At times, the myriad of characters feels overwhelming, but the tension and inspirational nature of the narrative helps pull through to a wonderful ending. Readers adverse to evangelical messages may feel overwhelmed, but Dobson has crafted a complex and satisfying story of history and forgiveness.