Secrets She Kept

Written by Cathy Gohlke
Review by Bryan Dumas

When Hannah Sterling’s mother dies, Hannah is left with a longing for a relationship she never had with her stern, domineering mother. Looking to fill the void, Hannah begins to dig into Lieselotte’s past as she cleans out her home. What she finds is that her mother wasn’t everything she claimed to be. In fact, Hannah learns that she has a grandfather living in Germany. A grandfather that her mother never mentioned; a family Lieselotte never acknowledged. Upon his invitation, Hannah takes a leave of absence from her teaching job and travels to Germany, where she learns that her grandfather played an active role in the Nazi Party and that her mother worked tirelessly to thwart his dark intentions.

Secrets She Kept is told in alternating chapters of Hannah in 1972 and Lieselotte during World War II. In Lieselotte’s chapters we learn of a young girl madly in love with a young man—Lukas—who is everything that her father despises. Lieselotte is forced to choose between her family, who are rising up the ranks of the Nazi Party, and Lukas’ family, who are secretly working against the Nazi regime. Slowly, Hannah discovers this past and unlocks horrid secrets that her grandfather would rather see buried forever.

Though this is a work of Christian historical fiction, and the message is there, Cathy Gohlke (an award-winning Christian author) keeps the “sermons” and preachiness to a minimum. This makes Secrets a wonderful book to read and allows the characters to develop naturally. I was pleasantly surprised by this book and would recommend it to anyone.