Rachel's Secret

Rachel's Secret


By Shelly Sanders


Rachel and Sergei find their worlds torn apart by violence in pre-revolutionary Russia...

Rachel is a Jew living in Kishinev, Russia. At fourteen, Rachel knows that she wants more from life than the traditional role of wife and mother. She has dreams of being a writer. But everything is put on hold when a young Christian man is murdered and Rachel is forced to keep the murderer’s identity a secret. Tensions mount as the distrust of the Jews is fueled by prejudice and rumour. 

While Rachel keeps the truth to herself, she watches as lies and anti-Jewish propaganda leap off the pages of the local newspaper, inciting many to riot against the Jews. Violence breaks out on Easter Sunday, 1903, and when it finally ends, 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, when a young Christian named Sergei turns against his father, a police officer complicit in the riots, to help Rachel. 

With everything against them, the two young people find comfort in the bond that is growing between them, one of the few signs of goodness and hope in a time of chaos and violence.

Book One in The Rachel Trilogy

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About the Author

Shelly Sanders has worked as a freelance writer for almost twenty years. The Rachel Trilogy was inspired by Shelly's grandmother, a Russian Jew who fled to Shanghai to escape persecution and then made her way to the United States, where she was the first Jewish woman to be accepted into the University of California, Berkeley’s science program. Shelly lives in Oakville, Ontario with her family.

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Product Information

  • Release: April 16, 2012

  • $12.95 Paperback

  • 256 Pages

  • 5.5 x 8.25

  • Teen Fiction

  • Ages 13-17 / Grades 8-12

  • ISBN: 9781926920375


  • Character Education
    > Prejudice and Tolerance
    > Strong Female Characters

  • Language Arts
    > Historical Fiction

  • History & Social Studies
    > Global Cultures
    > War & Conflict

  • Diaspora & Immigration Studies


Awards for Rachel's Secret

  • Association of Jewish Libraries' Sydney Taylor Book Awards 2013 - "Notable Book"

  • A Canadian Children's Book Centre's "Best Books for Kids and Teens" Fall 2012

Reviews for Rachel's Secret

"An excellent discussion starter for exploring the history of anti-Semitism..." - Jewish Book World

"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. … [It] can spark an excellent discussion about how prejudice happens and how it can be used to distort true facts." - AJL Reviews - Association of Jewish Libraries

 "Rachel's Secret would be an excellent addition to a middle school or junior high school study of racism. And although good storytelling is its most important feature, it is also a textbook example of the eight stages of genocide. For example, Sanders integrates the headlines from the newspapers of the day to illustrate the cunning effect of propaganda on people unwilling to ask more questions. Sanders should be commended for her ability to provide the shocking facts of this story while keeping her young adult audience in mind." - CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"Author Shelly Sanders shrewdly uses the character to give young readers someone to identify with while reading about horrifying events, an approach that renders the information much more accessible." - Quill & Quire

"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... [T]hroughout 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." - Booklist