Pick of the Week: Golem and the Jinni

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I read The Golem and the Jinni in large part because the author grew up in Libertyville and went to Carleton College, my own alma mater. I was also intrigued by the premise and have always enjoyed historical fiction and fantasy.

Helene Wecker tells the story of two non-human creatures, a golem and a jinni who both look human, and who have inadvertently ended up in New York City at the turn of the last century. Their personal backstories and folk stories from their homelands are seamlessly intertwined with their struggles in their strange new world.

Although each finds a person who recognizes their true natures and is able to protect and help them to some degree, both Chava, the golem, and Amhad, the jinni, long to truly belong to the human world in which they are living and working. Yet, as many immigrants learn, in order to belong they must adapt and give up much of their true selves.  Chava and Ahmad discover that they have bigger problems than all that, when they learn that something more sinister is on their trail and threatening to destroy them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it would be good for book discussions and could be recommended to older teens as well.  It reminded me a bit of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore in the way that magic and the real world mix easily together. Amazing that this is Helene Wecker’s debut!

  --Reviewed by Ellen Jennings, ejennings@cooklib.org


Ellen Jennings works at Cook Library as a Readers’ Advisor and the Teen Services Coordinator. When she’s not working she can be found reading, researching her genealogy,  walking at Independence Grove or taking care of her family. Of the many  jobs she's had, working at Cook Library is definitely her favorite because every day she gets to learn something new.