Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal by Diana M. Raab
When Diana was ten years old, she entered her grandmother’s bedroom one morning to request permission to go and play with a friend. When she was unable to awaken her grandmother, she became very frightened and called her mother. It was later determined that Diana’s grandmother Regina had committed suicide by overdosing on medication.
Many years later, when Diana was an adult, her mother brought her Regina’s journal, which had been found in a pile of papers in her closet. Between this journal and interviews with family, Diana was able to piece together much of the life of the grandmother she had loved and lost.
When I was offered this book, I thought it sounded quite interesting, but I was wary. There were so many ways a story like this could go wrong. It could have been overly emotional or too dry and removed, Regina’s life could simply have been very boring.
Luckily, none of those things was true. Regina had a fascinating life. Born to a Jewish family in a Polish section of the Autro-Hungarian Empire prior to World War I, Regina survived the war and escaped to America prior to World War II essentially on personal strength alone.
The book basically consists of Regina’s journal relating her life from a young age until she left for America. Diana has interspersed notes giving journal passages historical or family context, making them even more meaningful. The very beginning and very end of the book are also told from Diana’s perspective, beginning with the suicide and ending with her memories of Regina.
This book was fascinating and very well written. I found Regina’s life fascinating and gained insight as to what might have spurred along her depression. I highly recommend this book as the story of an incredible, if ultimately tragic, life.