MY MOTHER’S SECRET: A NOVEL OF THE JEWISH AUTONOMOUS REGION
BY ALINA ADAMS
Publication Date: November 15, 2022
History Through Fiction LLC
Genre: Historical Fiction
With his dying breath, Lena‘s father asks his family a cryptic question: “You couldn’t tell, could you?” After his passing, Lena stumbles upon the answer that changes her life forever.
As her revolutionary neighbor mysteriously disappears during Josef Stalin’s Great Terror purges, 18-year-old Regina suspects that she’s the Kremlin’s next target. Under cover of the night, she flees from her parents’ communal apartment in 1930s Moscow to the 20th century’s first Jewish state, Birobidzhan, on the border between Russia and China. Once there, Regina has to grapple with her preconceived notions of socialism and Judaism while asking herself the eternal question: What do we owe each other? How can we best help one another? While she contends with these queries and struggles to help Birobidzhan establish itself, love and war are on the horizon.
New York Times Bestselling author Alina Adams draws on her own experiences as a Jewish refugee from Odessa, USSR as she provides readers a rare glimpse into the world’s first Jewish Autonomous Region. My Mother’s Secret is rooted in detailed research about a little known chapter of Soviet and Jewish history while exploring universal themes of identity, love, loss, war, and parenthood. Readers can expect a whirlwind journey as Regina finds herself and her courage within one of the century’s most tumultuous eras.
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As Lena's father says his last words, he unleashes a secret that her mother has kept for Lena's entire life. As Lena's mother, Regina tells of her past, Lena learns about her mother's traumatic past. As a young woman, Regina was afraid that she would be the next target of Stalin's Terror Purge. Regina decides that it would be safest for her to escape to the Jewish Autonomous Region, Birobidzhan only to find a struggling community led by fear. Regina finds good in Aaron Kramer, who dares to speak up and share his ideas. When Aaron is punished with an enlistment in the Red Army, Regina follows him as a field nurse. When she is informed that Aaron has been captured, Regina makes her way on foot with her newborn daughter to the prisoner of war camp where he is being held. Now, Lena and Regina desperately try to find the man that Regina still loves.
My Mother's Secret is an inspiring story of hope, choices, courage and taking chances. I didn't know anything about the Jewish Autonomous Region, so this was a particularly enlightening story. I was constantly amazed by Regina's ability to keep going in the face of fear and tragedy. The part of the story that took place inside Birobidzhan was disheartening, yet expertly researched. I could feel the desperation and despair, yet the need to work together and persevere. While this section moved a bit slowly for me, it was important to learn about the experiences there and was an integral part of Regina's growth and decision making process. I was continually impressed with Regina as she found the courage to follow Aaron into war and continuously had the conviction within herself to keep going, even when the choices were heartbreaking. In the end, I was glad that hearing Regina's story led Lena to understand more about her mother and her decisions in raising her as well as examine her own choices in life.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Alina Adams is the NYT-bestselling author of soap-opera tie-ins, figure-skating mysteries, and romance novels. Born in Odessa, USSR, Adams immigrated to the United States at age seven and learned to speak English by watching American Soap Operas. After receiving her B.A. and M.A. in broadcast communications at San Francisco State University, Adams worked in television as a writer and researcher. Years later she penned the As The World Turns book tie-in, Oakdale Confidential, which became a New York Times bestseller. Adams continued writing and is now a prolific and innovative writer who has authored more than a dozen books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her latest release, The Nesting Dolls, is a Soviet-Jewish historical novel published by HarperCollins in July 2020. Her upcoming novel, My Mother’s Secret: A Novel of the Jewish Autonomous Region, a follow-up to her previous historical novel, is set for release in November 2022. Adams lives in New York City with her husband and their three children.
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