Monday, September 18, 2017

ARC Review: Stolen Secrets by L. B. Schulman

Stolen Secrets
Author: L. B. Schulman
Publication: Boyds Mills Press (September 19, 2017)

Description: After an abrupt move across the country to San Francisco, sixteen-year-old Livvy is shocked to find that her mother has lied to her. Instead of looking for work at a bakery, her mom is taking care of Adelle, Livvy’s grandmother, who Livvy thought was long dead. Suffering from Alzheimer’s, Adelle shouts out startling details, mistakes her own name, and seems to relive moments that may have taken place in a concentration camp. When Livvy and her new friend Franklin D. find journal entries from the Holocaust in Adelle’s home, Livvy begins to suspect that her grandmother may have a shocking link to a notable figure -- Anne Frank.

My Thoughts: This is a contemporary story filled with family secrets. Livvy is just about to start her junior year in Vermont with her friends when her mother packs them up and heads off to San Francisco. Her mom has told her that she was laid off and is going to get a job as a pastry chef in San Francisco. But Livvy learns that she is really going to be taking care of her mother who has Alzheimer's. Livvy had been told that her grandmother was dead.

Livvy's mother Gretchen hadn't seen her mother since she was in college. She hates her mother and wouldn't be taking care of her now except that she wants an inheritance from her mother. Gretchen is an alcoholic who has been sober for five years but the stress of caring for her mother Adelle has caused her to begin drinking again. Livvy wants to get to know her grandmother but Alzheimer's makes it difficult.

Livvy makes a new friend at school named Franklin D. He is the one who is persistent about making her his friend since she is still hoping that she'll be able to resume her life in Vermont in a short time. Franklin D. is an interesting character who is Jewish, has a great relationship with his parents, is bright, and has no filter between things going through his brain and then out his mouth. Livvy needs that kind of person in her life.

The story gains more complications when some of the things Adelle says lead Livvy and Franklin D. to believe that she was in Bergen-Belsen and might have known Anne Frank. The Anne Frank connection is also of interest to Vickie who is Adelle's other caretaker and who has primary responsibility for her while Gretchen is back in Vermont for another try at rehab.

This was an interesting and engaging story about how secrets can be hard on relationships. I disliked Gretchen because her alcoholism has made Livvy an adult before she should have had to become one. I liked that Franklin D. helped her become more comfortable with herself and with her own quirks.

Favorite Quote:
He frowned. "I lay it all on the line so everyone knows who I really am."

"I'm sorry. I have no idea why I said that. I guess I'm not used to talking so much about personal stuff."

"You should try it more often. It takes the guesswork out of communication." His face smoothed out into a smile.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

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