Rachel's Secretby Shelly Sanders
Set in pre-revolutionary Russia, where tensions are high between the Jewish and Christian populations. Rachel, who is a Jew, and Sergei, a Christian, find their worlds torn apart by violence as lies about Jews leap off the pages of the local newspaper. Vicious riots break out on Easter Sunday, 1903, and when they finally end, almost three days later, 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, as Sergei turns against his father to help Rachel. With everything against them, the two young people don't want to fight the bond that is growing between them, one of the few signs of goodness and hope in a time of chaos and violence.
Meet the Author
Shelly Sanders has worked as a freelance writer for almost twenty years. Rachel's Secret was inspired by Shelly's grandmother, a Russian Jew who fled to Shanghai to escape the ongoing pogroms.
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I don’t even know where to start in describing the importance and emotional impact of “Rachel’s Secret.” The most important aspect, to me, is that it fills a crucial gap in the historical fiction genre available to middle readers. Set in pre-revolutionary Russia, it explores the divide between Christians and Jews. Many unfamiliar words and sayings are introduced and explained in a way which feels natural to the flow of the story. The history is not limited to the Jews and life for all people in Russia at the time is portrayed in an accurate, yet easily understood, manner. Details of the horrors of pogroms are not sugar-coated, which shows a respect for the reader that I am sure they will recognize as well as appreciate. The plot itself revolves around a murder which the protagonist, Rachel, witnesses and is forced to keep a secret due to all of the discrimination and corruption found in Russia at the time. It’s a catalyst that adds some suspense and keeps the reader engaged, while also presenting an opening into the complex world in which they live. I can’t applaud the author enough for making the book so educational without being dry. I highly recommend “Rachel’s Secret” to all of those who are responsible for acquiring books for middle and high school library collections or classrooms. Those who home school will find it a good opening to Eastern European history. It’s a wonderful resource that will appeal to reluctant readers and advanced readers alike. This review is based upon a complimentary copy of the book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.