I'm the author of Daughters of the Occupation (Harper, 2022), a Canadian Best Seller. This historical fiction is inspired by the discovery of my Jewish roots as an adult, and by my grandmother's family, most of whom were murdered in the Latvian Holocaust.
When I traveled to Riga, Latvia and stood at the mass graves the Rumbula Forest (where more than 30 relatives lie), I knew I had to write this untold story.
I'm also the author of three Young Adult historical fiction novels: The Rachel Trilogy (Second Story Press); the first received a Starred Review in Booklist, and two of the three were named Notable Books for Teens from the Association of Jewish Libraries.
Before historical fiction, I was a journalist with articles in the Toronto Star, National Post, Maclean's magazine, Canadian Living, Reader's Digest, Today's Parent and Homemaker.
I graduated from the University of Waterloo with an Honors Degree in English; Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) with a graduate degree in Journalism; and University of Toronto's Creative Writing Certificate.
Follow me on Twitter @shelly_sanders and on Instagram: fictionbyshellysanders
Six generations of Presmann women; we are all made of pieces from the ones before us. From top left: Miriam Presmann, Sophia, Rachel (Shelly), Ann, Shelly, Bethany
June 20, 2022
The title of this haunting novel refers not only to the victims of Latvia’s Holocaust but also to their descendants, who carry the trauma of their ancestors. Sanders tells this story through three women: Miriam Talan, who survived the Rumbula forest massacre that took the lives of about 25,000 Jews; her daughter Ilana, whom she relinquished to save her from the internment camps; and Sarah, Miriam’s American granddaughter, who in the 1970s risks her life and travels to Soviet-controlled Latvia to ferret out the truth about her family’s wartime past. (Harper, May 3)