22 October 2014

My Mother's Secret by J. L. Witterick, Book review

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 8.6.2013 edition (September 5, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399168543
  • Also available in KINDLE format


A novel based on a true story, a mother and daughter risk their lives to provide shelter to two families and a German soldier--all unbeknownst to each other--in a tiny two-room house in Sokal, Poland, during the Nazi invasion.

Based on a true story, MY MOTHER'S SECRET is a profound, captivating, and ultimately uplifting tale intertwining the lives of two Jewish families in hiding from the Nazis, a fleeing German soldier, and the clever and "righteous" mother and daughter who teamed up to save them.

Franciszka and her daughter, Helena, are unlikely heroines. They are simple people who mind their own business and don't stand out from the crowd. Until 1939, when crisis strikes. The Nazis have invaded Poland and they are starting to persecute the Jews. Providing shelter to a Jew has become a death sentence. And yet, Franciszka and Helena decide to do just that. In their tiny, two-bedroom home in Sokal, Poland, they cleverly hide one Jewish family of two brothers and their wives in their pigsty out back, another in a makeshift cellar under the kitchen floorboards, and a defecting German soldier in the attic--each group completely unbeknownst to the others. For everyone to survive, Franciszka will have to outsmart her neighbors and the German commanders standing guard right outside her yard.

Told simply and succinctly from four different perspectives, MY MOTHER'S SECRET is a reminder that you don’t have to be extraordinary to make a difference. You can become extraordinary by making a difference.

Yad Vashem (Source Here)

My thoughts:

Beautifully crafted, this historical fiction is based on the true story of one courageous woman, Fran­ciszka Halamajowa. This amazing tale begins with the rising of the Fuhrer in a newer and stronger Germany and its eventual impact on the populations of neighbouring countries.

When Germany invaded Poland in 1938, no one could begin to imagine the horrors that would follow. It wasn't long before the High Commander issued orders allowing the systematical round up of all Jews.
This brave Polish citizen, helped by her two children, Damien and Helena, hid successfully not only Jewish neighbours but also a defecting German soldier in her tiny farmhouse outside of Sokol despite the odds. 

The particular chilling statement "Hitler invaded Poland because he thought he could get away with it." reminds us how 6 millions lives were snuffed without much opposition from the World. 

Divided in 5 chapters, each section introducing characters the author chose to highlight in this incredible heroic feat, the haunting tale of one woman's random acts of kindness in a time of unsurpassed brutality comes to light. Despite the terrible danger, Fran­ciszka 's conscience could not let her turn away the desperate Jews who turn to her for help. 

An inspirational tale of undaunted courage that needed to be told, J. L. Witterick's prose in her novel My Mother's Secret gives readers the impression she not only witnessed the years of deprivation but felt the deep anguish created by the uncertainty of tomorrow's possible turn of events in a world gone mad. 

There is no doubt this is a writer with amazing writing skills, even more so as this is her first novel!

5 Stars (I only wish I could give it more!)

(Franciszka Halamajowa - photo source Google)

Love is the only thing that you get more of when you give it away.

Meet the Author:

MY MOTHER’S SECRET, which is based on a true story, is J. L. Witterick’s debut novel.   It is a bestseller in Canada and has been published in a number of countries around the world.

For additional information visit (HERE)

Note: This was a library loan and opinions reflected are mine only.


  1. Sounds like a beautiful read Noelle! Have a lovely evening!

    Madelief x

    1. Love to see you here Madelief! Counting the days until I get to see windmills along the canals again...

  2. Sounds like an interesting and good book, Noelle. And I always like the ones that are true stories. How are you doing, my friend? We are in full Autumn right now, and I'm wondering what season you are in? I'm so glad that you stopped by because I think about you from time to time. I hope you're doing well, my friend.


    1. Dear Sheri,
      2014 brought a few challenges but I am hanging in there, thank you for asking!
      Autumn is here but so near the Rainforest, it also brings torrential downpours and we are developing webfeet!
      Counting the days until I am flying home for the Holidays (across the pond),

  3. Sounds like a fantastic book! Makes one wonder if the average person today would have the courage to do what this family did. On a more personal note, I wonder if I would have that kind of courage...

    1. Dear Aimee,
      I hope you might an opportunity to read this book, it is short and well written and should not be missed.
      On a personal note, I wonder at myself as well but I am proud to say my family did make a difference and never regretted it despite the consequences.
      God bless,

  4. Sounds like a good book. Thanx for the review, Noelle.

    God bless.

  5. That sound like a very hard task mainly not only keeping them hidden but also secret from each other.

  6. This was so simply written but really packed a punch.

    And based on your comment to Aimee, it sounds like you have some great stories about your family.


I love to share dreams and always enjoy meeting kindred spirits!
Thank you for stopping by!