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Bookapalooza: My Mother’s Secret: A Novel Based on a True Holocaust Story

September 24, 2014

Holocaust stories are difficult for me to read. The suffering is just so unthinkable and horrific that I find myself weeping uncontrollably. I recently finished reading My Mother’s Secret: A Novel Based on a True Holocaust Story by J.L. Witterick. This book also sparked tears as I turned the pages. But this time, I cried because of different feelings – those of hope and kindness.

my mothers secretInspired by a true story, My Mother’s Secret is the tale of a Polish woman named Franciszka who, along with her daughter, helped hide two Jewish families and a fleeing German soldier from the Nazis. What set this story apart from other Holocaust tales is that it’s ultimately a story about goodness in people and hope for the future.

I was so moved by the heroism of Franciszka and her daughter, Helena, and the fact that they sacrificed themselves simply because, as Franciszka said, it was the right thing to do. To quote the publisher, “My Mother’s Secret is a testament to the kindness, courage, and generosity of ordinary people who chose to be extraordinary.”

Sophie noticed me crying as I read and asked if it was a sad book. Not prepared to explain the Holocaust to a 6-year-old, I told her I was crying because the woman in the story was very kind to people who needed help. I told Sophie that there was a real time in our history when certain groups were very cruel to other groups of people, simply because those people were different from everyone else. The woman in the story helped the people in trouble by giving them a place to live when they had nowhere to go. And food when they had nothing to eat. That selflessness and kindness, I explained to Sophie, is what made me cry.

I highly recommend My Mother’s Secret, even if you do not typically read Holocaust or history books. It was a fantastic novel – based on the true story of a heroic woman – whom we can all be a bit more like.

L’Shana Tova ~ Happy New Year!

GIVEAWAY: I have one copy of My Mother’s Secret to give to one lucky reader. To be entered to win, simply leave a comment about about a book that gave you pause to think. The giveaway closes Tuesday, September 30 at 5 pm Pacific time. 

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2014 4:24 am

    Sounds like a great way to get the facts down and add some more to round out a story. I’m interviewing an Auchwitz survivor next week – it must be so hard to talk about these experiences.
    I just finished Sweetness #9, a novel that really makes you think about what we eat and what’s put into our foods. Would love to read this book! Thanks, Leah. L’shana tova to you and yours.

  2. Music permalink
    September 24, 2014 10:50 am

    This sounds like a great book!

    Have you read The Watchmaker’s Daughter? It’s written by the daughter of Holocaust survivors and is quite moving.

  3. Cyndi McErlane permalink
    September 24, 2014 3:44 pm

    Karen Kingsbury’s Redemption series is my “stop and think” favorite. I am in need of new copies because I have read them so many times. I have always been interested in Holocaust stories since I visited Dacau camp in Germany. I had never really known much about it, but, I actually felt pain when I was there…sick pain. Would love to read this book!

  4. cori permalink
    September 25, 2014 5:24 pm

    One book that I read and continue to think about is The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. It is about the siege of Sarajevo, from the perspective of three fictional characters. It is hard to believe how people can live through these kinds of events, and even participate in the killing. This novel makes you think about that.

  5. September 27, 2014 6:36 am

    I love to read and two books that still make me think of them are “19 Minutes” but Jodi Picoult — this focuses on the events leading up to a school shooting. She is so talented and making the reader see “the other side” of a story. Fascinating. The other is “the Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. Haunting. Tragic. Moments of beauty. A thousand more but those are two I think of from time to time and remember how much I learned just by reading those books.

    This one sounds compelling – I hope I win 🙂 MJ

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