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

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,880 ratings  ·  318 reviews
A novel based on a true story, a mother and daughter risk their lives to provide shelter to two families and aGerman soldier--all unbeknownst to each other--in a tiny two-room house in Sokal, Poland, during the Nazi invasion.

Based on a true story, MY MOTHER'S SECRET is a profound, captivating, and ultimately uplifting tale intertwining the lives of two Jewish families in
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 5th 2013 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 2013)
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Angela M
Once in a while a book comes along that makes you want to be a better person . This is a moving , beautifully written novel based on the true story of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter , Helena , who saved Jewish families in Poland during the German occupation . It's impossible to describe the unbelievable courage and humanity of these women who risked their lives for others because they believed it was the decent thing to do . It is a small book with enormous heart and hope and I cannot re ...more
Having read this inspiring book in one sitting, I am overwhelmed with emotion and hope. This fictional account of a true story of two women's heroic actions to save two Jewish families and a German deserter during WWII restores and deepens my belief that there are angels among us. And I'm thankful that on a whim I picked up this short, poetically written novel because I've needed to have my faith restored with all the turmoil and tragedy in our world. I've read so many Holocaust novels, but this ...more
This book is one of the most beautiful I've ever read. While it's set in the time of the Holocaust, there is love, joy, compassion and profound bravery. This is a novel, but it is based on real people, a woman and her daughter, who saved 15 people from death despite the many difficulties and sorrows of their own. This will make you remember how good people can be, how amazingly resilient they are, and what even just a couple of people can do to truly change the world. This book renewed my faith ...more

Dang, this little book packs quite a punch!

My Mother’s Secret is a Holocaust novel based on a true story. Franciszka is a Polish woman living in the small town of Sokal, Poland, with her teenage daughter, Helena. When Poland gets invaded by the Germans, the two women hide two Jewish families and a defecting German soldier in their tiny home, all without any of them knowing about each other. For more than a year, Franciszka must keep this secret and outsmart everyone to keep them all alive.

Carole Roman
With simple prose, J.L Witterrick has written a stunning novel of bravery and sacrifice during World War II. Franciszka is a Polish cook with two children married to a brutal Ukrainian seduced by Hitler's promise of prosperity. She leaves him to move back to Poland to live with her children, selling eggs to the locals. Like a diary, we watch the horror of the war unfold and new characters are introduced. There is a poor Jewish family, a wealthy Jewish doctor and his family as well as a war weary ...more
Jesse Kimmel-Freeman
Having grown up listening to stories of the Holocaust and the things that people had to do to escape the brutality of the Nazis, when I was approached to review this book I knew I had to. There's something that is amazingly powerful and beautiful about the stories that come out of this moment in history.

I must say that this book follows suits of all the other stories I've heard or read. It is written in a way that seems to flow through the mind as you read the words. It is beautifully crafted.

Diane S ❄
Although the writing is very simple and spare, the subject matter is anything but. It is not often that one reads a book about the holocaust and finds it life affirming, appalling too, but that is not the overall tone of the book.

Taking her daughter and her son, leaving her husband, an avowed supporter of Hitler, Francisca returns to Poland from Germany. The Germans invasion of Poland touches their town of Sokal and soon Jewish policies are enforced and all are moved to the ghetto.

She would ev
My Mother's Secret tells the story of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter Helena. While Franciszka and Helena were real Holocaust heroines, most of the characters and events depicted in the story are fictional. During Hitler's invasion in Poland, Franciszka and Helena hid two Jewish families and a young German soldier all in their home for more than a year. Franciszka's son also helped the Jews during this difficult time but later met his death while transporting a wagon full of supplies to t ...more
A wonderful "true" story of a woman and her daughter who harboured Jewish families at their farmhouse during Poland's occupation from Nazi Germany. The lady, and her daughter were not fictional. The story however is somewhat fictionalized. You'd think from the reviews this book should be, or was the top book of 2013. It's a heartwarming story, has no unique aspect from literally thousands of stories along this topic in print, and is written by a woman, who writes like she is a young teen. Chapte ...more
Het geheim van mijn moeder is een emotioneel boek dat zich afspeelt tijdens de Holocaust. Ik was erg benieuwd naar dit boek omdat dit boek een erg brede doelgroep aanspreekt. Al deze ‘hoofdstukjes’ geschreven in een soort dagboekvorm en het verhaal is gesplitst in vier perspectieven: die van Helena, de joodse Bronek en Mikolaj en de Duitse soldaat Vilheim. Deze personen zijn op de een of andere manier allemaal aan elkaar verbonden met als belangrijkste persoon: Franciszka.

Het boek begint uit het
I love the quiet, minimal tone of this book. It's as if I am in a dark room with the narrators whispering softly.

The story has four narrators in a fictionalized retelling of a true event - a Polish woman who helps her mother hide Jewish neighbors during World War II; a Polish Jew who tries desperately to save his family; the young son of a beloved Jewish doctor who hides with his family; and a German conscientious objector who is looking for a way out of his conscripted service.

The action is spa
Remy Benoit
War is ugly.
It is destruction.
It is betrayal.
It is showing up no matter how terrified you are.
It is our young sacrificed to a failure of diplomacy.
It is our young tested beyond anything rational.
It is our civilian population ravaged, plundered, and raped.
It is rotting corpses; leveled homes; ended and maimed lives.
It is propaganda; it is enemies; it is starvation; it is often torture and murder.
It is the worst of us, killing each other to bleed into the ground; to feed rats with
the dead.
It is t
I have always had a fascination with reading stories about the Holocaust. The stories that these people have to tell about what they endured and how they survived is amazing. Of course it was not just the people hiding but people like Franciszka and Helena that were the true heroes. They risked everything to protect these people. As evident in this book and as a reminder that not all of the people affected were Jews. Some Germans as well sought protection. Everyone in this book were great and ha ...more
A beautifully impacting novel that will leave you changed.
Zohar -
My Mother’s Secret : Based on a True Holocaust Story by J.L. Witterick is a fictionalized account of an actual woman who hid 15 Jews (and a German soldier) in her small house, located in a small Polish town, during the Nazi invasion of World War II. While the lines in the book between fact and fiction are blurred, it is still a fascinating read.

The book is divided into five sections, each told from a different perspective. The first and last sections are told by Helena who finds herself in love
A very moving tribute to the true goodness and fortitude of the human soul!

I was a bit leery to read another book which was set in the ghastly and hideous time of the Holocaust. I have read so many and my heart was wrenched by the many descriptive narratives, both fictional and non-fictional. Sophie’s Choice had me emotionally tattered... Night, by Elie Wiesel shocked and overwhelmed me by the inhumanity of man; then Schindler’s List emptied my tissue box!...just to mention a
Miranda Lynn
My Mother's Secret is a fictional account of the true story of a mother and daughter who lived in Poland during WWII and saved the lives of 15 Jews and one German soldier by hiding them in her house. The story behind this book is extraordinary, and it is refreshing to read a Holocaust story that focuses on the amazing strength and perseverance of the people who helped the survivors survive.

Even though I gave it only 2 stars, there were a few things about this book that I liked. I thought that t
*I received an Advance Readers' Copy of this book.*

4.5 Stars

Simply put, this was a wonderful read. This story was not the typical story of the holocaust; exposing the horrors of Hitler and his thugs. This story was about courage and hope. I actually felt hopeful throughout this reading and could not put it down. I had to know what happened.

What happened was, a simple woman, despite her fears; took in and housed Jews during WWII... right under the Germans noses. She was courageous, and beautiful
This book is powerful and quick to read. It is amazing what one person can do when they trust and help without thinking. Those who helped during the holocaust should be held in high regard. Lovely book!!
This is the second amazing book suitable for young adults and adults, alike, set during the Holocaust, I have read recently. The other was The Boy on the Wooden Box. But, I liked this one even more! It reads like poetry, has simple, profound truths scattered throughout, and is based on a true story of two real-life heroines. My favorite quote from the book, "I always thought that courageous people were those who were not afraid. Meeting Franciszka and her daughter, I realize that courageous peop ...more
Humairaa Patel
I finished reading My Mother's Secret in one sitting and even though there are many books out there read best in this way, I can't imagine taking any other route to finish this magnificent historical piece. Based on a true Holocaust story, this is one of those books that truly makes you want to become a better person. Simple yet powerful - the words I'd use to describe each sentence Witterick penned down. The writing is delicate enough for a young child to read but the words come crashing with p ...more
Christina Dudley
Rounding up from 3.5 stars. I picked this book off the Choice Reads shelf at the library because, frankly, it was short. And I thought it was nonfiction.

Turns out, it's "based on a true story," but I got over it and went ahead because--again--it was short, and every other book I'm reading is way too long.

If you love a Holocaust story no matter what, you will appreciate this one. I think I would've preferred the real story of the woman and her daughter who hid two Jewish families and a German des
Wat een verbluffend verhaal. Vanaf de eerste pagina word je meegesleurd in deze op waarheidsgetrouwe gebaseerde geschiedenis over een dappere geweldige vrouw en haar dochter in een van de meest donkere tijden. Dat zulke mensen bestaan in zulke periodes, zij zijn op zulke momenten het licht punt in de donkere tunnel.

Het verhaal verteld van uit vier oogpunten, beginnend en eindigend met Helena, de dochter van Francizka. Zij verteld over haar leven voor en in de oorlog. Hoe zij met haar moeder en
It was a good story but short, so I am not sure the day-to-day issues were fully addressed. This was kind of like the "Cliff's Notes" version of a longer novel (if there were a longer novel to read).
This was a fascinating book; it is a novelization of a true story. Set in Sokal, Poland during the German Invasion and all the Jews are being rounded up and put into the ghetto or being killed outright and anyone who helps the Jews is summarily executed for their efforts. That’s what makes Franciszka and her daughter, Helena true heroes these women put their lives on the line for people they barely knew, they gave them a place to hide, food and gave them their lives because none of these people ...more
I read this book in Dutch, but since I loved it so much, I will write my review in English, so that all my friends might be able to read the review and read this wonderful, special book.

This book isn't big, it is a short book with only around 200 pages, most of the chapters are only about 1 to 4 pages long, but the whole thing, the whole book is just wow, it is beautiful and special.

It switches perspectives, starting with Helena, the daughter. She tells her story, about before the war, and how e
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 ...more
Novel received courtesy of publisher--5+ stars

I have never read a novel that contains so much truth about compassion and cruelty, love and hate, pride and humbleness. This is a MUST read for every person! I will be passing it on to teachers of both history and English.

The novel gives us the fictionalized account of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter Helena. In reality, they hid 15 Jewish people from the Nazis in Poland. In the fictionalized account, the mother and daughter hid 2 Jewish fami
My Mother's Secret, a novel based on the lives of a mother and daughter during the Holocaust is a Must Read for everyone. Slotted as a Young Adult book, this is really a book for everyone. Holocaust Eduction should be mandatory everywhere and this book should be required reading. Too many people have never learned the truth of the Holocaust and the Survivors are quickly dying off. Those brave enough to risk death by hiding Jewish people during that time deserve to have their stories told. That i ...more
I was actually surprised to like this book, because I really didn't like the author's other book.
I found the writing a little stilted, but I think this would be a good book for a child learning about the holocaust. The language is simple and not graphic. I found myself wanting to find out what happens to every character in the end (except Helena...I seriously didn't care about her relationship at all). So I don't know that I would recommend this book to adults, because it's not all that nuanced,
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