Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rachel's Secret by Shelly Sanders

Book Summary (From the book)

Rachel is a Jew living in Kishinev, Russia. At fourteen, Rachel knows that she wants more from life than the traditional role of wife and mother. She has dreams of being a writer. But everything is put on hold when a young Christian man is murdered and Rachel is forced to keep the murderer’s identity a secret. Tensions mount as the Christians’ distrust of the Jews is fueled by prejudice and rumour.

While Rachel keeps the truth to herself, she watches as lies and anti-Jewish propaganda leap off the pages of the local newspaper, inciting Christians to riot against the Jews. Violence breaks out on Easter Sunday, 1903, and when it finally ends, Rachel finds that the person she loves most is dead and that her home has been destroyed. As she struggles to survive the aftermath of the riots – or pogroms – support comes from someone totally unexpected, when a young Christian named Sergei turns against his father, a police officer complicit in the riots, to help Rachel.

With everything against them, the two young people find comfort in the bond that is growing between them, one of the few signs of goodness and hope in a time of chaos and violence.

My review

I got this book through a LybraryThing Giveaway. When I first asked for it I thought it was going to be mostly a love story under a lot of pressure. I was wrong. 

First of all, I had no idea that it was based/inspired in a real character, in this case Sander's grandmother. This explains all the details in this book. I love romanticised history and in this case the author had the "advantage" of having the details from a person who was actually there, and luckily survived such a terrible moment in history. 

I've always liked books that explain traditions and this book did a lovely work, both with Christian and Jewish ones. Also, seeing all the riots through the eyes of young people was something I really appreciated. Usually is the adults that provoke this type of events. Kids more often than not, think the way we tell them too, and this book showed this once again. All the prejudice against, in this case, the Jewish people, came from the adults that felt threatened and rumors were started and fed by the same people. Is sad to think that this type of behaviour has no changed; people feel threatened by what is strange to them and let fear take the best of their rationality.

I gave this book a 5 because it showed the sides of the story in a very human way. I liked the fact that the struggle Rachel has inside is not just the fact that she knows who killed her friend, she is fighting against 2 prejudices, her religion and the fact that she is a girl.

I appreciated the fact that Sergei grows in front of our eyes. The juvenile jealousy against Rachel taking "too much time with his friend" replaced by a questioning young adult, someone who listens to others and makes his own mind.

Without ruining the end for you I have to tell you that I wanted a different end, but this one was as full of emotion as the one I wanted.

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