This Blog is Dedicated to our dear friend Karen.
When she left this life she left a hole in our hearts as well as several to be read books.
We, her friends, will read these books for her.
This blog will be a sort of book club for us to post our thoughts and feelings about the stories and feelings we have of Karen while we read.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

#12 My Mother's Secret by JL Witterick


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 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.

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