Rachelle’s Reads: “The Keeper of Hidden Books” by Madeline Martin

Chandler Public Library Director Rachelle Kuzyk turns to historical fiction for her book review segment, a newly published (Aug. 1) novel for lovers of both 20th-century history and reading itself.

In 1939, during the days just preceding the first German attack on Poland, a group of young women are about to embark on new life adventures. Some dream of pursuing advanced education and noble careers, some dream of finding love and starting a family, and some have yet to discover what direction their dreams will take them. None of them, though, dreamed that Hitler would invade their country and plunge them instead into a horrible nightmare.

Zofia is the daughter of a renowned surgeon who has led an idyllic life with unlimited opportunity before her as she considers her future with uncertainty. She and her friends are active in the Girl Guides and spend their free time reading and discussing books at the library, determined to read all the books banned in Germany by Hitler. Warsaw is still free, and Zofia is drawn to literature, wondering if she, too, might become an acclaimed author one day. When air raid sirens wake Zofia and her family one night and the bombs begin falling, her beautiful city begins to fall around her. When her Girl Guide troop leader enlists the girls to help in the war efforts, Zofia finds herself tending to the injured, fighting fires with buckets of sand and preserving material from her beloved public library alongside the librarians she has always admired. Based on a true story, The Keeper of Hidden Books is heart-wrenching historical fiction that reminds us of the importance of literature and the freedom that is intertwined in the simple act of reading it.

Rachelle Kuzyk, MLS
Library Manager, Chandler Public Library

The Keeper of Hidden Books