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Fiction Ages 12+
Pages: 256
Themes: European history, pogroms, Jewish-Christian relations
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pub Date: 01/Apr/2012
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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.

Kirkus Reviews
"Adeptly conveys the history, from Mikhail Rybachenko's real name to the bitter bigotry and bloodbath...Critical for its underexplored subject."
[Starred review] "Basing the story on historical record, Sanders weaves a tale of catastrophe stemming from unbridled hatred, spreading of untruths, and lack of commitment to public safety on the part of officials...In an artful way throughout this absorbing, chilling tale, characters wonder what can stop the tragedy of hatred from overcoming community, a question that will prompt readers to wonder the same."
School Library Journal
"A compelling story about an unfamiliar historical event...The novel holds its value as an informational story that historical-fiction fans will appreciate."
"An excellent candidate for a classroom study in social studies or language arts as well as individual reading for pleasure...The weaving of the personal with the historic is skillful and thought-provoking. This one is a must for a library serving youth."
CM Magazine
"First-time novelist Shelly Sanders masterfully reconstructs life in early 20th century Russia. And the skillful integration of the small details of daily life (the food, clothing, dwellings and activities) into a plot that is about to boil over, makes for a very rich reading experience...Rachel's Secret would be an excellent addition to a middle school or junior high school study of racism...Sanders should be commended for her ability to provide the shocking facts of this story while keeping her young adult audience in mind. Highly Recommended."
Resource Links
"Written in a realistic style with details of the time lending authenticity...Rachel's Secret tells an important story of an historical event seems to be overlooked in children's fiction."
Association of Jewish Libraries
"The well-written story gives readers a good portrayal of what life was like for Jews in pre-Revolutionary Russia...The author's vividly-drawn characters bring the historical period to life while personalizing the story."


Sydney Taylor Award Notable Book for Teens  | 2013 | Commended

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