Title: My Mother’s Secret: A Novel Based on a True Holocaust Story
Author: J.L. Witterick
Publication: Berkley Trade, 2014
Source: For review
Dang, this little book packs quite a punch!
My Mother’s Secret is a Holocaust novel based on a true story. Franciszka is a Polish woman living in the small town of Sokal, Poland, with her teenage daughter, Helena. When Poland gets invaded by the Germans, the two women hide two Jewish families and a defecting German soldier in their tiny home, all without any of them knowing about each other. For more than a year, Franciszka must keep this secret and outsmart everyone to keep them all alive.
First and foremost, the Holocaust fascinates me and I will read anything about it that I can get my hands on. It is, without a doubt, one of the biggest tragedies the world has ever seen. One of my all time favorite college courses was a Holocaust literature class that opened my eyes to an abundance of literature about the Holocaust touching on many of the lesser known stories and topics about this tragedy. While this book, like all Holocaust books, was incredibly heart-wrenching and just plain sad, it was a true treat to read about some of the rare do-gooders whose hearts seem impossibly huge. That these two women would care for and hide people that they hardly even knew speaks wonders and volumes about the human spirit and makes you believe that there is good in the world, even amidst the worst of things and the worst of times. It is rare to be uplifted by a Holocaust story, and this one manages to do this, even despite all the sadness that is also involved.
I have to admit, the first little bit of the book had me a bit bored to start. The story is narrated by several different characters and starts out with Helena. I think I just wasn’t into it right away because Helena’s part didn’t touch as much on what she and her mother were doing, and focuses a lot on her romantic relationship. When it switches to some of the people that are in hiding, however, I couldn’t stop reading. For real. I stayed up really late and read the last 150 pages in one sitting. I needed to know how it would end and it was totally worth the late night.
This story is very short and fast, filled with quick, sparse chapters, but as I said, it REALLY packs a punch and will leave you emotionally reeling. I will forever have this story and these people etched into my mind. The fact that these people were real people makes it that much more jarring and touching to me. If only all of us could be just HALF as good as Franciszka and her daughter, the world would be a better place.
For anyone who reads Holocaust literature, I highly recommend this one. It’s a different side of things, and a viewpoint that I was so touched by. If you’re not a Holocaust reader but enjoy historical fiction or inspirational stories, I recommend this to you as well.
My Rating: 4.5/5
GIVEAWAY: One very lucky reader will win their own copy of this fantastic book. To enter, please be 13 years or older and have a U.S. mailing address. Leave a comment below letting me know you’d like to enter, as well as an email address. Winner will be drawn via random.org on September 24, 2014. Good luck!