Family secrets always cause pain. The secrets Hannah Sterling discovers after the death of her mother are shocking, and her journey to Germany to find the answers to her questions only brings more disturbing news and some unsavory people into her life. Hannah’s mother had always been distant, so much so that Hannah felt unloved and unwanted. All she ever wanted was to know that her mother loved her, but now her mother was dead. Walking with Hannah to solve this mystery is exciting and scary in parts.
Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke tells two stories: Hannah’s search for answers and her mother’s story of surviving World War II. Secrets She Kept is one of those novels that grip you so much that even after you’ve finished the last page, you keep thinking about the characters and the story. And even though I know it is fiction, I can’t help but think that through Gohlke’s research, I’m reading a true account of a survivor. The novel also addresses forgiveness, something that has to be difficult when we’re talking about the atrocities of the Nazis.
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because I can safely relive a period from the comfort of my couch, and it is an interesting way to learn history. Some imprint their message in our minds in ways a nonfiction or textbook account might not.
Gohlke excels in writing historical fiction. Her novel Saving Amelie is quite the page turner also. If you love historical fiction, I hope you’ll find these to read. I know for certain that I’ll be reading more by this author.
Secrets She Kept was published by Tyndale House.