Rachael’s Secret

Rachel'sSecret9781926920375_p0_v1_s260x420Rachel’s Secret

Shelly Sanders, Author

Second Story Press, Historical Fiction, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 13-18

Themes: Tensions between pre-revolutionary Russian Jews and Christians, Hatred,  Rumors, Riots

Synopsis:  Rachael is a 14-year-old Jew living in Kishinev, Russia, in 1903.  Unlike most girls her age, she has dreams of being a writer.  Her life is turned inside out when her Christian friend, Mikhail, is murdered after a day of ice skating on a river with friends.  Rachael is the only witness to the murder, but realizes the great danger she faces going to the police.  She knows her family will be at great risk.  She shares her secret with her sister and her Christian friend, Sergei.

In keeping her silence, tensions begin to mount between the Jewish and Christian communities.  The Jews of Kishinev are blamed for the murder of Mikhail.  The entire community turns on the Jews and the local newspaper spreads rumors and propaganda daily.  Even the police fail to protect and support the Jews.  A riot breaks out and the community is destroyed and blood is shed.  Sergei tells his police-chief father the truth, but Sergei is dismissed and his father does nothing.  Rachael and Sergei feel hope dwindling, but know they must stop the violence.

Why I like this book:  This is a debut novel for Shelly Sanders and she is a very skilled writer.  She has done a superb job of taking history and fiction and combining them in this unforgettable story.  The events in the story are true.  Sander’s story is inspired by her grandmother who lived in Kishinev in 1903 and survived the riots.  Many of her vividly developed characters in the story, including Mikhail, Sergei, and Sergei’s father, are based on real people.  The story Sanders weaves is compelling and gives her readers a very realistic view of life in Kishinev in 1903.  I did not know about this piece of history.  I highly recommend this book for middle and high school students.

Visit Shelly Sander’s at her website.  She has written a sequel, Rachel’s Promise, to be published September 15, 2013.  Rachel and her family escape Kishinev on the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia and board a boat to Shanghai.  Follow her journey and new life in an unexpected country.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

18 thoughts on “Rachael’s Secret

    • I really had a difficult time putting this book down. It was a page turner, especially since I knew that the events of the story were true and some of the characters existed. It is an important read.


  1. An important issue, and by the sounds of it, an important book. Very important to understand such histories as these. In Tsarist Russia at the time, Pogroms were always set up against the Jews Important for young people to know how marginalisation and revolution against injustice is the making of modern civilisation.


    • Thank you for your additional insight into that period of time, and how revolution against injustice has caused humanity to change and continue to change as we face other injustices in our world.


  2. This calls to mind my husband’s great uncle’s story of living through Kristallnacht in Germany when he was 12. That night his town was destroyed and he and his parents had to hide out in the local cemetery. He always stressed the importance of tolerance and learning from the past. Rachel’s Secret sounds like an unforgettable and important story.


    • Thank you for sharing your great uncle’s story. There are so many stories out there that need to be told. I like that he’s encouraged his family understand the importance of tolerance and learning from the past. Rachel’s Secret is an important story for teens.


    • I have read a number of historical fiction books around this subject and each one is so unique. Like you, I didn’t know this incident had occurred. It’s important for us all to know — and we need the younger generations to know and continue to understand the relationship to what is occurring in our world today. I love that so many authors are writing important stories for youth today.


  3. I love that this was inspired by her grandmother’s story, but these kind of things can be so hard to read. They are such emotional stories but we can learn so much from the mistakes of others. Sounds like she did a great job with this book.


    • Yes, that made the story even more compelling. This was something I didn’t know anything about, so I’m glad I read it. Rachael was a strong character. And there will be another book out Sept. 15, Rachael’s Promise. Thanks for stopping.


    • Thank you Rhythm. It’s well worth reading. I couldn’t put it down. Rachael is a very strong character and I look forward to her journey once she leaves Russia. I love stories that are based on true stories of those who survived and moved forward with their lives.


  4. Hi Patricia – I just stumbled on your blog and wanted to say “hi” and thank you for this treasure trove. I love your focus on healing. Do you have have twitter handle? (Just curious because I find it easier to keep up with blogs via twitter links).


    • Thank you so much Nancy. I hope that my blog is a resource for kids, parents and teachers. I watch what people google for and find there are no books on certain subjects that are very prominent issues for kids. I did tweet you and my blog posts are on twitter. Again, thank you for visiting! – Pat


  5. Pingback: Rachel’s Promise – Book Two in the Rachel Trilogy | Children's Books Heal

  6. Pingback: Rachel’s Hope | Children's Books Heal

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