Keeping Secrets

Written by Bina Bernard
Review by Peter Clenott

On the eve of the end of the world for many of Poland’s Jews, a father and mother must make a terrible choice. Hershel and Malka Stein have two young daughters, their pride and joy, loving playmates Lena and Hannah. Hershel is determined to take flight to America before the barbed wire gates of hell close in on them. But he can only take one daughter.

More than thirty years later, Hannah Stone, married but childless, living in New York, struggles with her relationship with her father Harry. Harry has a secret, one that has tormented him since the day he left one of his darlings behind with the promise that someday he would return.

Keeping Secrets is the story of one family’s descent into darkness, where the shadows of the past are never out of sight. Hannah must embark on a journey of discovery to find out the truth of her sister. Did Lena die among the six million, or did she somehow manage to survive? Can Hannah find her and bring her back to New York before her dying father becomes another one of those nightmare shadows?

Ms. Bernard’s novel reads as though the events of the novel occurred in real life to her own family. The horrors of Nazi Poland. The fear that never fades. Life after the war where decisions made and secrets kept breathe life into a fear that never quite goes away. While at times I felt that the dialogue was stilted, the Stone family’s plight is moving, and the story pulls you along until its dramatic conclusion. Keeping Secrets is more than just another Holocaust novel. It is author Bernard’s alert that the shadows of evil are never far away.