The Secret Keepers

Written by Paul Yee
Review by Wisteria Leigh

The Secret Keepers opens in 1906 in Chinatown, San Francisco, moments after the historical earthquake rocked the city, leaving it in rubble. Death and fire ravage the city without discrimination as the members of the Chinese Leong family are literally and figuratively shaken awake.

During the panic to flee, Lincoln Leong is killed by a runaway wagon. Jack knows that his older brother Lincoln is dead before he gets to the scene, where he gazes on his brother’s ghost emerging from his body. Jack has yin-yang eyes, the ability to see ghosts, but this anomaly frightens him.

With his father and Lincoln now dead, he is not ready for the responsibility of caring for his Ma and sisters. He is advised to take out a loan and reopen his family’s movie house. But when opening night arrives, just as the film starts, another theater-goer shouts that he sees a ghost. The audience screams and flees the building in mass hysteria. Jack has also seen the girl, dressed in blue, appear and disappear. Jack struggles to understand why the ghosts won’t rest as he searches for answers.

Paul Yee is a prolific author and winner of the Governor General’s Award. He presents this tension-laden turn-of-the-century story of family secrets and cover-up with drama and suspense, an ideal formula for captivating young and reluctant readers. With a quickstep pace and unexpected twists, this is a compelling read that will engage all ages.