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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Regina's Closet by Diana Raab

Regina’s Closet:
finding my grandmother’s secret journal
Diana Raab
ISBN 10: 0825305756
ISBN 13: 978-0825305757
Beaufort Books

Wow! What an incredible story. It’s rare for this reviewer to “rave” or to liter my opinions with complimentary adjectives and yet, I have been exposed to a book that absolutely demands both…Regina’s Closet: finding my grandmother’s secret journal is a hauntingly beautiful story of two women, Diana Raab and her beloved Grandmother, Regina Klein. You will smile and cry. You will be shocked and astounded, the narrative is filled with such raw emotion that it reaches out from the pages and touches the reader in a very tangible way.

Author, Diana Raab shares her grandmother’s journal, which follows her difficult and frightening experiences in war torn Poland, events of World War I, witnessing the Russian invasion, atrocities committed by soldiers, the death of her mother in the cholera epidemic, the cramped trains evacuees spent weeks riding only to arrive in cities where the natives did not want them and had no reservations about expressing such in the most hurtful of ways. Even as a child, Regina was not sparred this degrading hostility. Over and over again she is forced to make adult decisions and each time her incredible strength and unusual ability to understand the ways of the world shines through the darkness that surrounded her. The family eventually immigrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York, where things remained tense between her grandparents, but Diana wouldn’t realize until years later, while reading the journal the extent of her grandmother’s marital unhappiness.

Meticulously and masterfully, Diana has woven her feelings, fears and experiences throughout this extraordinary narrative and the result is this once-in-a-lifetime story. Diana found strength and grace in those handwritten, time worn and yellowing pages. She began to see her grandmother in a new light, as she read about the horrific things she had witnessed and the hardships she had endured as a child, she couldn’t help but wonder if these things had played a part in her grandmother’s decision to take her own life. Growing up, Diana was always closer to her grandmother…she spent a great deal of time with Regina and had fond memories of things her grandmother shared with her. In 1964, at ten years old, Diana was home alone with her grandmother when Regina took an overdose of sleeping medication. The loss of her beloved grandmother had a profound affect on the young Diana and years later she would have an exceptional opportunity to reconnect with her grandmother, through the secret journal.

Regina (grandmother) was a true hero..wise beyond her years, with a quiet strength that crossed the generations via the words of her journal and influenced her darling grand-daughter, giving her courage and providing solace and sanctuary. She could not have known that years after penning the diary and many years after her death, her reflections would reach millions of readers. I applaud Diana Raab for recognizing the significance and beauty of her grandmother’s words and for taking the initiative to share this intimate journey with us. The author has definitely inherited her grandmother’s way with words and allowed her heart to flow freely within the pen strokes that created this literary masterpiece.

I recommend “Regina’s Closet: finding my grandmother’s secret journal” to all readers, everywhere…don’t miss this heart warming, inspiring and life-affirming book– this is one you will want to share with everyone!

Happy Reading!

– RJ

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