Secret Storms by Julie Mannix von Zerneck
A Mother and Daughter, Lost then Found

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Shining through both narratives is goodness and the power of the human spirit. A dually narrated, uplifting tale on overcoming profound adversity.


An Indie Reader Discovery Award and National Indie Excellence Book Award Winner.

A pregnant, upper class nineteen-year-old Philadelphia Main Line debutante is confined, against her will, to a state mental hospital. She spends her pregnancy surrounded by the mentally challenged and the criminally insane. On April 19, 1964, she gives birth to a child, whom she is forced to give up for adoption.

A loving middle-class couple adopts a month-old little girl from Catholic Charities. She is adored and cherished from the very beginning. It is as though she is dropped into the first chapter of a fairy tale-- but we all know how fairy tales go.

This is the story of a mother and daughter. Of what it is to give up a child and what it is to be given up. Of what it is to be a family, and to never lose hope-- because anything is possible. In this award-winning memoir, Julie Mannix von Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield recount the stories of their lives. Written in two distinct and deeply expressive voices, their stories seamlessly meld together in a breathtaking ending.

"The book is beautifully written and...compelling, to the extent that readers might feel they are sitting with the authors, listening to them tell their tale...more like a novel than a memoir."
-ForeWord Reviews

“Shining through both narratives is goodness and the power of the human spirit. A dually narrated, uplifting tale on overcoming profound adversity.”
-Kirkus Reviews

“A heartbreaking but ultimately life-affirming mother-daughter story that defies fiction. Every plot twist, every emotion touches a chord, even for those of us who have not had to endure such a brutal separation. Read it and weep—and then finally rejoice. An ode to the enduring power of family ties.”
-Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of A Woman of Independent Means

“In my writers' workshops, the greatest gospel I can preach is the obvious one—to tell the truth, whatever form it takes. This amazing mother-daughter writing team exemplifies the concept to the max. The plot is Dickensian, rife with villains and struggle, the revealing of it, breathtaking in its simplicity and heartbreaking in its courage. What a story.”
-Ernest Thompson, Academy Award-winning writer of On Golden Pond

“What an extraordinary and compelling story, all the more so because it’s true—and told so beautifully by its two heroines.”
-Alice Maltin, producer & Leonard Maltin, film critic and correspondent for Entertainment Tonight

“This story will break your heart, bring on tears of joy, and make you believe in the healing power of love, forgiveness, and family.”
-Meredith Rollins, Executive Editor, Redbook Magazine

“This is an uplifting story of hope and personal courage that is sure to resonate with most readers.”
-Monsters and Critics

About Julie Mannix von Zerneck

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Julie Mannix von Zerneck was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She traveled with her parents, living in Paris, on the Isle of Capri and in several boarding schools around the world, before settling down at Sunny Hill Farm at the age of nine. There, she lived with a menagerie of animals, including a cheetah and eagle and her very own baby spider monkey. After attending the Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC, she became an actress on Broadway, had running roles in three soap operas and guest starred on many TV series. She is married to the TV producer, Frank von Zerneck. They have three children and four grandchildren and reside in Toluca Lake, California, where, for 26 wonderful years, they were the owners of Portrait of a Bookstore. She is a lifelong collector of antiques and antiquarian books. Kathy Hatfield was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up surrounded by two brothers, twenty-five cousins, and two sets of grandparents in Indialantic, Florida. She attended Florida Atlantic University, after which she worked as a mortgage broker while running her own small business selling men's neckties. She now teaches World Literature at a high school in Florida where she serves as English department chairman. She and her husband of 25 years live in a quaint beachside community with their two daughters. She is a freelance writer and moderator of the Adoption Reunion Stories Facebook page, which currently has over 2,800 members. She's a competitive runner and participates in 5k races when she's not correcting papers.
Published March 27, 2013 by Blue Blazer. 346 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Secret Storms
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on Mar 01 2013

Shining through both narratives is goodness and the power of the human spirit. A dually narrated, uplifting tale on overcoming profound adversity.

Read Full Review of Secret Storms: A Mother and D... | See more reviews from Kirkus


Reviewed by Amy Edelman on May 16 2013

The story reads like a thriller, told from the alternating perspectives of Julie and Kathy. The main characters are likeable and the emotions run deep on both sides.

Read Full Review of Secret Storms: A Mother and D...

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Ann Caswell

Ann Caswell 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list