J. L. Witterick

Published: September 2, 2014 (reprint)

Publisher: Berkley Trade Paperback

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Every time I read a story based on the Holocaust, I am riveted and in awe of the horrific acts perpetrated on the Jewish people. Every story I have read has left me distraught but also so grateful for the few glimpses of hope and kindness that were shared during such an evil point in our history. MY MOTHER’S SECRET is just that kind of story.

J. L. Witterick was captivated by the true story of Franciszka and her daughter, Helena, a simple family with a farm in rural Poland.  After hearing about their selfless act of hiding 15 people in their simple home during the war, Witterick knew there was a story to tell. In MY MOTHER’S SECRET, Helena begins telling us about her life growing up in Germany with her parents and brother, Damien. As Hitler emerges as the new leader, her father takes Hitler’s side and life at home becomes more difficult. At 16, Helena and her brother leave with their mother to move to Poland, leaving the abusive father behind. Through the many contacts and friends they meet during their time in Poland, Francsizka’s kindness is remembered. Those connections prove to be quite valuable as war breaks out. Moving through the book we read the personal stories of the people Francisizka chooses to hide and keep safe while war and horrors take place all around them. Of those who take refuge on the farm, we meet a German soldier who can’t bear to participate in any more of the horrible acts required of him, a doctor and his family whose wealth can only protect them so long, and finally, a family who can’t bear to suffer another loss at the hands of the Germans.

The novel is written in a way that it can be shared with your teenager or your grandparents. The chapters are short and even though the pain of the words are difficult, it is a quick read. There are many lessons to learn while reading this book, including living without regrets, giving selflessly to help others, and that acts kindness will be rewarded. Even when Franciszka should have given up and been as angry as any other person who had suffered during the war, she found a way to give to others, to keep hope alive, and choose to do the right thing when she had so much to lose.

This would make an excellent choice for book clubs or for schools to use in their Holocaust studies. Discussion questions are included in the back of the book, but even without them, you will find much to discuss in the stories of Franciszka, Helena, and the families they meet. MY MOTHER’S SECRET is an amazing story and one that should be shared with generations to come.

J. L. Witterick

Originally from Taiwan, J.L. Witterick has been living in Canada since her family’s arrival in 1968. Today she works as President of Sky Investment Counsel. MY MOTHER’S SECRET is J.L.’s debut novel. She lives in Toronto with her husband, and their dog and cat. For more on J. L. Witterick, visit her website,  You can also find her on Facebook, HERE

If you would like to enter to win a copy of MY MOTHER’S SECRET, fill out the form below. You may enter only once. This giveaway is open to US residents only. The contest will end at 11:59 on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. I will choose a winner on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, using and will contact the winner by the email address provided. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me or I will choose a new winner. I am not responsible for undelivered prizes but will do my best to make sure they are delivered. 

Thanks to all who entered to win. Kathryn was the winner. 

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  1. Jennifer on September 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Great review. This book has been on my list for a bit now!

  2. Amy McHargue on August 26, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I have a copy of the true first edition, published by iUnivers with a revision date of February 18, 2013 (not the later March 2013 date that is in the version that went public). There were only a handful of this version printed, as advance copies to illustrate the matte cover option to the author. If anyone would be interested in purchasing this rare copy, let me know! Have a great day, all ☺

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