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A Family Secret

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  244 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
While searching his grandmother’s attic for likely items to sell at a yard sale, Jeroen finds a photo album that brings back hard memories for his grandmother, Helena. Helena tells Jeroen for the first time about her experiences during the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, and mourns the loss of her Jewish best friend, Esther. Helena believe ...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published January 1st 2003)
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83rd out of 327 books — 254 voters
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Community Reviews

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Oct 02, 2013 Juan rated it it was amazing
A Family Secret by Anne Frank House


This book is very good but in the beginning. It is kind of boring, then you get in the middle and it is awesome. In the end of the book Helena meets Esther again. The genre is Historical Fiction.Also this is a good book for people how want to now about, history and like fiction.

This book is about a boy how goes to his grandma's to find, stuff to sell in a big garage sale.Then he finds some old things and ask his grandma what they are, so hi
Jeroen goes into his grandmother’s attic in search of things to sell at a garage sale. He finds items from World War 11 and questions his grandmother. His grandmother forgot all that was up there and never talked about her past. She opens up to her grandson and tells her story about the experiences of German occupation in the Netherlands and how her father worked with the Nazi’s because he was a Dutch police officer and was following orders. Her best friend Esther was Jewish and her father neede ...more
Sandy D.
A Dutch graphic novel set during WW II, about a young girl who lived in Amsterdam and the Jewish friend she made in 1939. It was translated into English, but there are a lot of details still in Dutch, which lends it a very authentic and exotic feel.

It's aimed at teens - and since it was published by the Anne Frank House in cooperation with the Resistance Museum of Friesland, it is perfect background for kids who are reading (or have read) The Diary of Anne Frank. It has some very insightful pers
Sep 03, 2015 Mandy rated it really liked it
This graphic novel, written for teens I think, is about the experience of the Dutch people during the second world war.
It is very well done, whilst at the same time being a really entertaining read.
Full of historical facts and packed with information I was impressed with this book.
This is the other side of the story set out in the graphic novel "The Search". ( I love that the author has put this history in 2 novels rather than one - it gives room for far more depth of character, among other things.) I thoroughly appreciate his story-telling skill - this is not an easy topic, and he manages to cover it with honesty and grace. People are not all good or all bad in this book, and to me this is an important point to make when telling a story about war. I know this is not nece ...more
Mrs. Porter
May 23, 2015 Mrs. Porter rated it it was amazing
Graphic novel telling of two families with intersecting paths during the WWII Occupation.
Marcos Kopschitz
Quadrinhos, muito bom, uma graphic novel. É uma sequência a outro álbum com o mesmo tema, muito complementar, A busca, que preferencialmente deve ser lido antes.

Trata-se de uma ficção histórica passada na Holanda e nos Estados Unidos que, começando com personagens de uma família no presente, relata os acontecimentos a partir da ascensão do nazismo na Alemanha na década de 1930, a Segunda Guerra Mundial, a invasão de quase toda a Europa e a perseguição aos judeus.

Para quem já sabe tudo sobre o as
May 18, 2015 Dora rated it it was amazing
A family Secret
Dora Agyepong

This book is by Eric Heuvel and it is interested because this book talks about a journey a family took and all the secrets in it. it all started when a young boy named Jeroen wanted things for the Queen’s day flea market, so he decided to visit his grandma attic to get the things he need. so he went to the attic and finds old newspapers and family pictures and start reading them, so right after he was about to leave the attic, his grandma came to the attic and saw the
Alex Baugh
Feb 11, 2014 Alex Baugh rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
Eric Heuvel's first book, The Search, told the story of Esther Hecht and her parents during the Holocaust. Esther was the only one family member to survive and she had moved to the United States after the war ended. But she always wondered what happened to her best friend Helena Van Dort. Although Helena wasn't a Jew, Esther never knew if she had survived the war or not.

In A Family Secret, the reader already knows that Helena did survive if the reader has read The Search. But Helena has never sp
May 14, 2015 Jamison rated it it was amazing
A Family Secret by Eric Heuvel is a fantastic story about Jeroen’s grandmother and her story through World War 2. The story tells how Helena, Jeroen’s grandma lived through the entirety of World War 2 with her friend Esther who was Jewish. Helena’s story starts the beginning of the war and goes through showing the experiences of her, her mom, dad, and two brothers, as well as Esther. The art work is great the whole story from front to end was never dull and there was also a little twist in the s ...more
Mar 04, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it
An accurate history of the invasion of the Netherlands during WWII as experienced by one ordinary family, well written, with dynamite Tin-Tin-esque art. This was intended for the youth market (so I forgive the lack of gory physical atrocities) and it succeeds on many levels considering its intended readers. Equally good for girls and boys, this tells of the Jews most directly harmed by Nazi actions, those who reluctantly worked with the invaders, those who resisted, and even those who fought as ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Diz rated it really liked it
This graphic novel tells the story of a Dutch family during World War II. The family members all take different paths during the war. The father is a collaborator, the mother tries to mind her own business, the older brother joins the German army, and the younger brother and sister join the Dutch resistance. It's interesting to see how people reacted in different ways. It also touches on the fate of Dutch Jews since the younger sister's best friend is Jewish. The art is beautiful and the story m ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Christie rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, graphic-novel
Eric Heuvel is a Dutch comic book artist, so A Family Secret, a story which takes place in Amsterdam during the second world war, is perhaps a topic especially close to his heart.

Jeroen is looking for items to sell at a flea market held on Dutch Queen’s Day. He decides to head over to his grandmother’s house, hoping to score some good stuff without actually have to visit with his grandmother. Snooping through the attic, he comes across a scrapbook filled with items marking the German occupation
Matti Karjalainen
Eric Heuvel on hollantilainen sarjakuvataiteilija, jonka ainoa (?) suomennettu teos taitaa olla Parhaat sarjat -albumisarjassa ilmestynyt January Jones -tarina "Vaarallinen matka Monte Carloon".

Anne Frank -museon ja Hollannin vastarintamuseon julkaisema "A Family Secret" on kertomus Jeroen-nimisestä amsterdamilaispojasta, jolle isoäiti kertoo suvun vaiheista toisen maailmansodan aikana. Kaikki sodan aikaansaamat haavat eivät ole arpeutuneet, eikä mummo voi unohtaa naapurissa asunutta ystävätärt
Melissa Mcavoy
A grandson, Jeroen, (ye-ROHN) searching his grandmother’s attic for junk to sell at a tag sale comes across some mysterious items: mementoes that remind his grandmother of the terrible time during Nazi occupation and of a shameful family secret. At first Jeroen hopes the story is short, so he can be on his way, but he gets drawn into a tale of best friends: his grandmother: Helena, the daughter of a policeman, and Esther, a Jewish refugee. Together they watched Germany overrun Amsterdam, tried t ...more
Feb 13, 2012 Jake rated it really liked it
A graphic novel that looks like a Tintin outing seems like the most unlikely way to accurately and compassionately describe the events of the WWII in the Netherlands. However, its step-by-step explanation of the Nazi invasion and Holocaust effects is educational and serious. It's taken with a brief framework of personal story (Grandma explaining her childhood), so there is some comfort of it being the past. But it's still the most horrific time in world history, when humanity was closing in on a ...more
Oct 04, 2012 Sydney rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
In A Family Secret by Eric Heuvel and Lorraine T. Miller, Jeroen a young teenager discovers facts and hears his grandmothers' story from the past, involving World War 2.
I thought this was a unique book and a creative way to tell a fascinating story, while bringing interesting history facts into the novel. This story has many different settings, each connecting with World War 2. This story involves friendship, family, action, and love.
In this book Jereon travels to his grandmother's house for
Nov 17, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it
Genre: Junior – Graphic Novel

Summary: A Family Secret is a graphic novel depicting the story of a young teen who explores his grandmother’s attic and discovers their secret family history. Grandmother sits him down and shares her childhood in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. The story relates their family’s struggles as well as their friendship with a Jewish family.

Literary Critique: (a.) Point-of-view
(b.) A Family Secret describes several different points-of-view during the Nazi occupation
LH Johnson
Nov 03, 2012 LH Johnson rated it really liked it
I picked this up alongside The Search by the same author. Both books are published in collaboration with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and focus on the Dutch during World War Two. Whilst I found the sister title a little structurally awkward, A Family Secret was rather stunning.

The grand dame of graphic novels featuring World War Two is pretty definitely Maus. Here's what I thought of that. The Search and A Family Secret form a vital contribution to the field.

In A Family Secret, Helena tell
The Holocaust is not a topic that would seem to lend itself well to graphic novel format, but this book -- and it's sequel The Search--are both very successful at making the story of Holocaust victims accessible to middle and high school students. The author certainly doesn't gloss over the atrocities, but they they are portrayed without excessive sensationalism. Based on the fact that these books have been sponsored by the Anne Frank House, I believe the historical details are accurate. The sto ...more
Thomas Vree
May 15, 2012 Thomas Vree rated it it was amazing
This (and another book that accompanies this -and the two should be read together - The Search) give a very good overview from start to finish about the experience of Nazi occupation in Holland and all that it entailed, in an easy to digest format. The intertwined stories of two girls, Esther who fled Germany with her family to the Netherlands, and the Dutch girl who befriends her, Helena. Geared mainly towards young adults, but worth reading for any age group.

I know it’s easy to say that it wa
Becca Rose
A Family Secret was an amazing and sensitive book about the German invasion of the Netherlands. This book depicts the story of Helena and her Jewish childhood friend Ester, which is told by a much older Helena to her grandson Jeroen. This story is very historically accurate while still being rich with friendship, prejudice, suffering, and standing up for what you believe in. This book was a beautifully illustrated graphic novel that was also historical fiction. I think graphic novel was the best ...more
The Holocaust in the Netherlands seems an unlikely subject for a graphic novel, but Heuvel handles it quite well. The book gives a straightforward and compelling account of what happened during WWII, told through the eyes of Helena, a Dutch survivor. Helena was not Jewish, but had a close friend, Esther, who was, and who disappeared duringthe war. The events that Helena relates to her grandson Jeroen cover much of the history of the war. Jeroen is at first a reluctant listener, but later is draw ...more
Ms. Patterson
Nov 05, 2009 Ms. Patterson rated it really liked it
A graphic novel about the Holocaust? I immediately think about the fabulous MAUS books, but this one looks to be for a little younger audience.

A FAMILY SECRET starts off with Jeroen searching his grandmother's attic for items for a yard sale. While there, he discovers her scrapbook and other mementos from World War II. When he questions his grandmother about it, she tells him about her long-lost best friend, a Jewish girl named Esther, and what happened to her family during and after the war.

Marilyn Belsham
A decent primer of WWII but written in such a way as to remove the reader from the horrors of it. Yes, it tells of people who died, and some characters are murdered or die on the front, but it was almost told in point form accompanied by pictures. I appreciate how difficult it would be to tell the entire story of the war in a short graphic novel but maybe that's the problem - if the novel had a smaller scope it might have been a more touching story.
Jun 04, 2014 Tatiana rated it liked it
Beautiful Tintin style artwork, and as kid-friendly subject matter as you're going to get, given the topic of Nazi occupation. Very beautifully drawn and excellent storytelling, although for such grueling subject matter the treatment of it felt almost sterile. For that reason it's more geared for kids than adults. However it opened my eyes to a lot of historical details and sequence-of-events in WWII I was unaware of.
Lisa Rathbun
This graphic novel begins as a modern day Dutch boy, exploring in his grandmother's attic, finds old momentos from WWII which inspires his grandmother to share her memories with him. I like how the story includes details about Dutch collaborators and how they were treated after the war, as well as a little bit about the Japanese prisoner camps in the Dutch East Indies (about which most young people know nothing). Sometimes the story line might be confusing as there are several people's stories t ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Chloe rated it liked it
In Family Secret by Eric Heuvel a teenage boy named Jeroen is looking through his grandmother Helena's attic to see if he can find things to sell in a garage sale. He finds something that brings up memories from his grandmother's past as a safe dutch citizen being close friends with a Jewish girl named Esther who suffered in the holocaust. Esther was turned in by Helena's own father. She was taken to a concentration camp and later died there. Helena's finds out that her father had been hiding a ...more
Learning about WW2 in school, I don't recall picking up much about the German invasion of the Netherlands. Having read Miep Gies' autobiography, the Anne Frank graphic novel and now this in the past year, I am certainly being educated! History just comes alive better when it's illustrated.
Laura Cushing
Jan 22, 2016 Laura Cushing rated it it was amazing
Graphic novel by the Anne Frank House about two best friends during the invasion of the Netherlands. All sides of the story are present here from Jewish Germans who sought shelter in the Netherlands to collaborators and resistance members. Very well done will read the companion book.
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ERIC HEUVEL is one of the top graphic artists in the Netherlands. He concentrates on writing and illustrating educational graphic novels—three of which, including A Family Secret and The Search, have won the Dutch Comics Association’s category award. He lives in Zaandam.
More about Eric Heuvel...

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