BAYA Librarian's Reviews > Stolen Secrets

Stolen Secrets by L.B. Schulman
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really liked it
bookshelves: high-school, middle-school, dysfunctional-families, mystery, realistic

Livvy’s life is hard enough with an alcoholic single mother and a move across the country to San Francisco in the middle of high school. But now her mother is keeping secrets from her about what they are really doing there. Is her mother actually caring for the grandmother that Livvy thought was dead? And who exactly is this salty, Alzheimer’s-stricken grandmother anyway? Then Livvy and her new friend Franklin find some entries from her grandmother’s Holocaust-era journal and things get really complicated.
This is a jam-packed book with family dysfunction, budding romance, coming-of-age and a historically connected mystery. The plot can seem crowded at times with twists that include neo-Nazis, elder abuse, religious awakening, nerdy new friends and even a police chase. But Livvy’s genuine struggle to figure out who she is amidst the chaos grounds the story. She is funny and smart and confused and the supporting characters around her are equally well-drawn. The setting in the neighborhoods of San Francisco adds interest without being overly romanticized. All of which surrounds the book’s core: a contemporary exploration of the Holocaust. With a possible family link to Anne Frank and Nazi soldiers, Livvy is forced to consider the big questions about survivors, the nature of evil, guilt and ultimately acceptance.

It is understandable that there is so much historical fiction about the Holocaust, but not all teens want to read history. This book is a reminder that the Holocaust is not only recent but relevant, and teens today live with its legacy. Schulman has written a contemporary story whose protagonist has modern problems, but it is still grounded in that history. This is a quick read that moves at a good pace without sacrificing any of the hard questions. Recommended to teens interested in the Holocaust, and also those who enjoy contemporary fiction that present difficult situations and allows them to consider the big ideas of identity and society.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September, 2017 – Finished Reading
October 20, 2017 – Shelved
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: high-school
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: middle-school
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: dysfunctional-families
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: mystery
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: realistic

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