I almost didn’t pick up Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke. Then when I did pick it up it was because I thought it was a completely different book. Happily in both cases I was wrong. I should have picked it up right away and I don’t think the other book is this good. Yes, Secrets is a WWII book, but with a bit of a different perspective.
Hannah is ready to move on. Her mother, a mother she never felt loved by, has passed. Hannah just wants to close that chapter in her life. She knows now she can no long win her mother’s love or attention. Hannah tries to tell the world she just doesn’t care. The problem is she does and it comes out in other ways. Her temper even gets her in trouble at work. That gets her suspended and sends her back to her aunt’s house.
While getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner, Hannah overhears a conversation that makes her think there is more to her mother’s story. Hannah sets out to find out what that is.
I can already hear you thinking, “how is this a WWII book?” Well Hannah’s mother's story starts during WWII and that is where Cathy takes us. It's a wonderful blend of time periods. I kept finding myself very involved in Hannah’s story and kept wanting to read more of it, but to be honest Lieselotte’s story (Hannah’s mom) is just as compelling. I didn’t want that story line to pause either. When an author can do that, you know you have a good story.
I used an adjective to describe this book when asked what book I had just finished. I said powerful. It surprised me as it seemed to pop out before I thought about it. But when asked why I said that I thought a minute and said it is because this is one of the first inspirational about WWII that is not completely centered around a romance.
I really do recommend this book even if you feel like you don’t want to read another WWII book. Cathy does a great job of taking us down a path that not many other books have. The idea that not all Germans were Nazis. There were many that ended up in the camps just because the stood up for what they believed was right and correct, even at the cost of their lives and their families' lives.
There is much more to this story, but I will leave you to figure out what that is as I am sure there will be different things that hit you. Just know that it will be well worth the journey alongside of Hannah and Liesolette.