My Mother's Secret

My Mother's Secret

Based on A True Holocaust Story

Book - 2013
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In 1939, the Nazis come to Poland and start to persecute the Jews. Providing shelter to a Jew has become a death sentence, but despite this, Franciszka and her daughter hide Jewish families and a German soldier in their small home. For all of them to survive, she will have to outsmart the German commander and her neighbors.
Publisher: Toronto : Penguin Group, 2013
ISBN: 9780670068104
Branch Call Number: FIC Witte
Characteristics: 195 p. : ill


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DBRL_KrisA Mar 18, 2017

Short novel based on the true experiences of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter, Helena, during World War II Poland. Four sections, each relating the events from the point of view of a different narrator - Helena; Bronek, a Jewish man whose family is hidden by the Halamajowa family; Mikolaj, a young Jewish boy whose family is also hidden by the Halamajowas; and Vilheim, a German soldier and pacifist hidden by the family. A fourth section picks up Helena's story again, after we've been introduced to all the other characters, and follows the story through to the end of the war.
The story, while fiction, is written in the form of a memoir (or series of memoirs); it is not an "exciting" or suspenseful book, in that there is not a lot of action, but there is certainly an element of suspense in that any or all of the characters could have been discovered at any time - which would have meant the death of all of them.
The book is plainly written; although I found it in the adult fiction section of the library, it could very easily be read by a teen or even someone in middle school or junior high. While the subject matter of the Holocaust is pretty heavy, there is nothing in the book that would be inappropriate or difficult to deal with for a younger reader. In fact, I felt the book belonged in the library's Young Adult or Juvenile section, instead of the Adult section. (In her Acknowledgements, the author mentions several of the people she had asked to pre-read the book either mentioning it was a good book for children, or being children or young adults themselves.)
It was interesting to know that the book was based on real people and events. As the epilogue says, before the war, the village of Sokal, Poland held over 6,000 Jews - after the war, only 30 survived. The Halamajowa women hid 15 Jews (and one German soldier) in their home for most of the war - fully half of the survivors of the war. I would have liked to have seen more information on what happened to the real people that survived the war - if there was a real Mikolaj, a real Bronek. Aside from that, this was a good, short book.

Aug 02, 2016

I really loved this book. It was hard to put down. I read it in 2 days. A story of courage in the darkest time of WW2 .

Feb 13, 2016

Good things come in small packages is certainly true of this little book. What a gem. Based on fact, this is the story of a brave, compassionate woman living in a polish town during WWII. She held no bitterness toward either the Germans or the Jews and saved people from both sides. Truly inspirational. Written in a simple style focusing on one town and avoiding the more harrowing aspects of the war make this appropriate for young adult readers as well.

Mar 18, 2015

One of my favourite books ever! Easy to read in one day.
6,000 Jews in this little Polish city at the beginning of Hitler's reign. At the end of it, only 30 Jewish survivors.
Half of them (15) because they were hidden in the home of a mother and daughter.
What heroic courage!

May 25, 2014

This is a SIMPLY beautiful little book. I read all the time and if it is a young adult novel then I should be reading more of them. With a subject that is usually ugly and horrific, this book floats on beauty and kindness.

May 21, 2014

I found this book very difficult going because the writing style was so elementary. There was no detail or depth to the characters. It's true that it's a quick read. I just didn't think it was a particularly good one.

Jan 31, 2014

This is an inspirational and educational book that I definitely recommend. It is well written and easy to read. The book opens with this quote from Elie Wiesel: "To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all." It closes with this quote from Sydney J Harris: "Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable." Quote from the author: "Love is the only thing that you get more of when you give it away." These quotes summarize the message of this remarkable book.

LaughingOne Nov 01, 2013

This is a young adult novel, based on real people and things that happened in Poland during World War 2. The bravery and heroism here are less visible than in some stories, but not less significant. It is not insignificant that a Polish mother and daughter saved the lives of half (15) the Polish Jews who survived the war. If reading this book, and perhaps discussing it, has an impact on the reader and encourages the reader to do good just because it is the right thing to do, the story has served a very good purpose.

Oct 16, 2013

very good story. Like how it all comes together and is a very moving book . Would like to have a sequel to this book about how the characters went on with their lives.Enjoyable to read.

Oct 08, 2013

GREAT book! Definitely recommend. Pretty short and sweet so I was able to read this in almost one sitting, but this could be partly because I couldn't put it down! The characters are great and the story of their intertwined experiences and the overall theme is touching. Think it would be a great book for adolescents as well as adults.

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