“Summer of Stolen Secrets” by Julie Sternberg— Secrets

Sternberg, Julie. “Summer of Stolen Secrets”, Viking Books for Young Readers, 2021.


Amos Lassen

Catarina is a city girl who spends the summer in the South and learns the secrets of her estranged extended family in Julie Sternberg’s “Summer of Stolen Secrets”. Her grandmother who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who always been a mystery to Cat and when she gets the chance to visit her for three weeks, she is anxious to meet the strict grandmother she has never known.

Cat begins working at her grandmother’s luxury department store with her rebellious cousin Lexie. Nothing seems to be going right and Cat notices that no one talks about the past and she is dismayed and wonders if you made the right decision to embark on this trip. But then, she learns about  a secret from a time her grandmother refuses to speak of and Cat’s summer, and everything she thought she knew, changes. This is a story aboutthe power of forgiveness that proves it’s never too late to start over.

Being from the South and specifically from Louisiana, I love the way Southern life is examined here and how Cat attempts to know her grandmother and her

Jewish heritage. Her grandmother had cut off contact after Cat’s father married a Christian woman. Cat’s Jewish heritage was a mystery to her until she discovered secrets her family has long kept about Safta’s escape from Nazi Germany.

Sternberg uses her own story as a basis for this book. She grew up in Baton Rouge and worked in her family’s store that was bought by Sternberg’s grandparents after fleeing Nazi Germany. She reflects on family dynamics, Jewish identity, and the effects of the Holocaust through generations.

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