I really enjoyed reading Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke. This book was an emotional rollercoaster, and I enjoyed every minute of that ride! Thank you to the team at Muddy Pearl Books, for sending me a copy of this book.
It’s a beautiful, but painfully raw story about a war that not only made people’s lives miserable, but also left painful wounds for generations to bear as well!
Hannah Sterling was never close with her mother. And when her mum dies, Hannah learns she left secret letters for her. Intrigued to find out what her mum was hiding from her, Hannah travels to Germany, to meet the grandfather she never knew she had.
Thirty years earlier, during the second world war, in Germany, Lieselotte’s father is being promoted in his ranks of the Nazi party. He also wants his daughter to marry, as any good and reputable woman should. But Lukas, the man she loves, is not an ideal match that will keep his reputation intact. How far is he prepared to go, to ensure his daughter’s cooperation?
Secrets She Kept is written in two timelines, thirty years apart, and this was an instant hit for me. I love stories that go back and forth, with characters that are connected, and in the end, the timelines’ plots meet and reveal the full story and solve the mystery. This story was written from Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s perspectives, a daughter and a mother, both struggling in their own way. Lieselotte, trying to fight a corrupt system and help people she is forbidden to help, and Hannah, trying desperately to re-connect with her mother and get to know her more through her past.
The Second World War is still a sensitive and painful topic to discuss in the world. Too many innocent people lost their lives. And many that managed to survive were never reunited with their families. This story is about all the pain, all the grief, and all the tragedy it caused, and about a love story that could never be.
The characters in this book are written perfectly.
I was about to say that you can relate to them, but no one could relate to people that have been in those terrible camps and suffered such terror. However, Cathy brings this experience to the reader in such a way that you cannot help but fell as if you are there, suffering with them. The post-war Germany was very realistic as well, especially people’s experiences. It showed how people can manage their grief, their regrets, or how they are able to live, knowing their older generations did terrible things to innocent people. You can see that best in Hannah, when she desperately wants to help people that have been hurt. But how can you help a person, that has lost everything already?
This book made me cry so many times. It is so raw and hard to take in, and it takes a toll on you when you read. But it speaks so loud about things that happened, which shouldn’t happen, and about people’s experiences. When I was reading it, I felt as if I was there myself.
Secrets She Kept is a truly magnificent book that I wholeheartedly recommend. It is emotional and contains a lot of intriguing secrets that you, as a reader, will be slowly uncovering. I loved it, and I hope that people will continue to share these stories. A lot of bad things happened to innocent people, and that should never be forgotten, no matter how hard it may be to tell.