Memories are fascinating! They give us glimpses of what was or what we believed was, but we may not recognize they are incomplete or a false narrative we’ve been trained to believe. The newest book by Melanie Dobson, Memories of Glass, will include both.
This latest historical fiction offering will complete the memories of several generations of the Kingston and West families with surprising intersections spanning from Holland in June of 1933 to the present-day story of Ava Drake.
Ava knows little about her family. Her father left her mother, brother, and her. And her mother walked away from the wealth and prestige of the Kingston family to live in coastal North Carolina. Ava is left to care for her brother many nights while her mother works to help provide. But on a night that haunts Ava’s dreams, her mother and brother die when there is an explosion and fire that take these family members’ lives.
Her father doesn’t want Ava, but a case worker locates a family member of her mother’s (Marcella Kingston) who takes her into her New York home. Ava is eager to have a family again but has no idea the secrets that hide beneath the families’ wealth and the source of that wealth.
When Ava is asked by Marcella to head the Kingston Family Foundation and travel to Amsterdam for the opening of a Memorial Library Ava stumbles upon information that leads her to look more carefully into the family story no one is telling her or talking about.
Her journey takes her into the story of what was happening in Holland in 1933 when the German Nazis began to take over the beloved country of Josie, Michael, and a captivating cast of characters caught up in a web to gain wealth. Some of the characters scheme to gain great riches through a purported resistance effort against the Nazis while secretly investing in the Third Reich and its war machine.
The beautiful country of Holland is stunned when Jewish friends and neighbors start being rounded up by the Nazis. A few (not unlike Corrie Ten Boom’s family) determine to try to save as many as they can and especially to try to save the children.
Melanie Dobson does a masterful job of weaving the true story of how heroic men and women risked all to rescue more than six hundred children from the Dutch theater where Jewish families were “collected” before transport to the east.
Ava’s search for the truth takes her from New York to North Carolina, Amsterdam, Oregon, and Uganda. In her journey she learns the truth of the family wealth and who she is.
As Ava says near the beginning of the story:
“Memories are curious things. Some I want to remember, and others…well, I simply don’t. Most of my memories – at least the ones from childhood – are curdled into lumps anyway. No amount of stirring will separate them.”
But the separation and clarification of the memories do happen and Ava’s mother’s Bible becomes the anchor for Ava to hold to as the truth is revealed. Her courage to uncover the truth points to redemption and forgiveness not only for her, but others as well.
This story captivated my heart and reminded me again of the valor of some during WW II who demonstrated a courage to risk all for those who were condemned to die.
“There comes a time for forgetting,
For who could live and not forget?
Now and then, however,
There must also be one who remembers.”
Albrecht Goes in Das Brandopfer (The Burnt Offering)