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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Mother's Secret by J.L. Witterick

Published in 2013 by iUniverse

J.L. Witterick's My Mother's Secret is the true tale of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter Helena who are  native Poles trying to survive the German occupation of their country. They speak German since Franciszka was married to a German (the father of Helena) but she left him to return to Poland before the war. Helena works in a German factory and is dating the manager, the son of the owner. She and her mother are somehow scraping by even though the war is a daily reality for them and German soldiers have been known to park their vehicles right next to their house and officers have even come over for dinner. Oh, and they are also hiding two Jewish families and a German soldier who refuses to fight, keeping them all fed and unaware of each other.
German soldiers in a Polish village in 1942 or 1943

Witterick tells this story in a spare writing style that emphasizes the matter-of-fact way that these two ladies took in families that needed help with little discussion. People came to them needing help and they helped them. That's it. It is sad that this is remarkable in this world, but it is.

This story reminded me of the famed Levi Coffin who helped between 2,000 and 3,000 slaves escape along the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. I have visited his home in Newport, Indiana and he was always worrying about how to hide the extra food and water that extra mouths consume. I cannot imagine how hard it was to hide this extra consumption (not to mention dealing with the bodily waste) on a daily basis. Levi Coffin said when he was asked why he did what he did: "
I thought it was always safe to do right." I am sure these ladies never heard of Levi Coffin or of the Underground Railroad, but they were of that same admirable mindset.

I would recommend this book for grades 5 and above. The reading level is not too high and the horrors of the Holocaust are not listed in gruesome detail so as to bother younger readers.

See the author's website by clicking here.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
I rate this book 4 stars out of 5. 

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: My Mother's Secret: A Novel Based on a True Holocaust Story

Reviewed on April 3, 2013.

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