Thursday, June 26, 2014

Crime? Pick: The Art of Secrets

The Art of Secrets
by James Klise
Algonquin
2014
255 pages
ISBN: 9781616201951

All I can say is: WOW! The Art of Secrets will rock your world! Readers will be invested in the many faceted characters of the main characters and  bit players who tag along for the ride but provide insight will pull the story along. James Klise has written a teen tour-de-force so compelling and lavishly layered  that it is sure to become a classic.

A tragic apartment fire destroys an immigrant family's American dream; Saba Khan's family would be homeless and penniless if not for the generosity of wealthy strangers who let Saba's family stay in their luxury condo rent free. Others step in with donations and Saba's online presence explodes. Students in Saba's  prestigious school offer to hold a fundraiser to help her family.

When it's discovered that the fire was set and obviously arson, questions are raised. Could the Khan's be looking for a handout, or is this a hate crime? Someone so enraged with "outsiders" set the fire knowing it would destroy the family? Maybe even hoping to kill members of the family? The school is rife with opinions which bleed over to Facebook.

The students at the school believe in Saba as a victim, and won't bow to pressure from outsiders who gossip that the Khans set the fire themselves. When pieces of donated art are discovered to be hidden gems of  Chicago artist Henry Darger--an artist whose works are considered "outsider" but priceless--all forms of human sins are revealed. The school principal sees the chance to raise money for her floundering budget, the Khans realize they could be "rich" and feel blessed but unworthy, students begin to whisper, the police investigate, the school art teacher dreams of having a closer look, and hungry journalists descend upon the school hoping for the scoop of the century.

Readers will be sucked in the vortex that is The Art of Secrets--secrets truly are an art, and this page turner proves it. James Klise has written a novel that will make readers question what is right and what is wrong. A reader is likely to see the issue one way at the opening of the book, but do a complete 180 when the truth is revealed. This one left me gasping for breath! Thank you, James Klise, for one helluva ride!

Highly, highly recommended for mature readers. The twists and turns of the plot make this a more difficult read but highly worth your time!  Anyone who loves a great, dark tale full of intrigue and drama will love The Art of Secrets.

Grade 8-up due to nuances and subtle storytelling. The story is told in what appears at first a haphazard and difficult way--it is a series of interviews, Saba's journal entries, monologues, articles and conversations--but as the story gains momentum, readers realize it is told in a uniquely sublime way. The only way it could be told. I say hurrah, James Klise! I believe you have a runaway winner of a book, likely to cause a lot of buzz and be selected for quite a few honors. Good luck, sir.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)



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