My Mother’s Secret

MY-MOTHER'S-SECRET-jacketBy J.L. Witterick
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013; 195 pages

This book by J.L. Witterick is a quick but very meaningful read. The story is really about a family of righteous gentiles — a mother, daughter and sons. The family lives in a little house in Poland during the Holocaust and manages to hide two Jewish families and a Russian soldier who defected. Each chapter is very short and tells a snippet of their lives — or the lives of the Jewish people who come to live with them.

The story of Franciszka, Helena and Damian, who dies while taking supplies to Jews hiding in the woods, is based on a true story, though the book is fiction. And it is an uncanny story.

Franciszka is a strong but warm woman. She takes care of her children — Helena and Damian — on her own. Then she takes care of helpless others. She is creative and quick at how she handles this task. And she is discreet. She is also selfless.

Another piece of the novel is about daughter Helena’s love life. She meets a wealthy man who falls head over heels for her. He offers her a new life, but she stays back to help her mother with the Jews. In the end, when they reunite, it is truly a special scene.

You can read “My Mother’s Secret” in a day or two, for sure. It is easy to get through, and it takes you into a sad world but leaves you feeling better about humanity.

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