Cover image for The art of secrets
The art of secrets
Klise, James, 1967-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin, 2014.
Physical Description:
258 pages ; 22 cm
When some quirky art donated to a school fundraising effort to help a Pakistani American family, victims of a possible hate crime, is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous outsider artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, adults and teenagers alike debate who should get the money and begin to question each other's motivations.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Young Adult
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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An Edgar Award Winner, Best YA Novel 2015

Where there's smoke . . .

When Saba Khan's apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her high school rallies around her. Her family moves into a rent-free luxury apartment, her Facebook page explodes, and she begins (secretly) dating a popular boy.

Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba's life turns upside down again. Should Saba's family get the money? Or the students who found the painting? Or the school?

Monologues, journal entries, interviews, articles, and official documents expose a tangled web of greed, jealousy, and suspicion as students and teachers alike debate, point fingers, and make shocking accusations about what's really going on.

"Relationships, secrets and lies aplenty." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Will stay on readers' minds long after the last page." -- Booklist, starred review

"This story . . . culminates in a shocking twist of an ending that will engrossreaders until the very last page." -- The Christian Science Monitor

A Booklist Editor's Choice Book
A Booklist Top Crime Fiction Book
A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book
A Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award Nominee

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* After her family's apartment goes up in flames, Saba Khan's Chicago high school organizes a benefit auction for her family. When a book by the famous outsider artist Henry Darger turns up among the items that have been gathered for sale, it raises a number of perplexing questions: How did such a unique piece go missing for so long? Shouldn't the financially floundering school get a cut of the profits? Instead of bringing everyone together, the discovery further marginalizes the school's outsiders. The story is told through documents, interviews, journal entries, and text messages from Saba, her father, teachers at her school, and her classmates as their suspicions about the art and the origin of the fire grow, and fingers are pointed in every direction. Klise lets loose a chorus of genuine voices as the disturbing truth emerges, and people's secrets grow too large to hide. This art mystery is that rare book that will be passed around by teens as well as teachers in the faculty lounge, discussed and dissected and immediately reread to scour for hidden clues and motivations. The incidents at Highsmith School will stay on readers' minds long after the last page.--Howerton, Erin Downey Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his intriguing second book, Klise (Love Drugged) tells the story of a Pakistani family rebuilding their lives after their apartment is destroyed in a fire set by an arsonist. Coming to their aid, students from sophomore Saba Khan's prestigious Chicago high school plan a community fundraiser to help replace what her family lost. But when one of the items in the auction is reported missing-a collection of drawings supposedly painted by reclusive (real-life) outsider artist Henry Darger, worth half a million dollars-fingers are pointed and rumors circulate about who might have stolen it. Through emails, texts, journal entries, interview transcripts, newspaper clips, and official documents that pull in the perspectives of students, teachers, and others, Klise simultaneously reveals details about what might have transpired while allowing characters' darker motives-prejudice, envy, greed-to emerge. Astute readers may solve the whodunits early on, but the question of "how far would [people] be willing to go to make [their] dreams come true" propels the book forward to its scandalous conclusion. Ages 12-up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-A suspicious fire, possibly a hate crime, destroys Saba Khan and her family's apartment and possessions. The Khans rely on the generosity of their neighbors and donations from Saba's school, a prestigious private school near downtown Chicago. Siblings Kendra and Kevin Spoon, two of the teen's classmates, decide an auction would be a great way to raise money to help the Pakistani American family. Soon the Spoons find a unique piece of artwork for the auction, and the event becomes big news that everyone wants in on. The art goes missing, and anyone involved in the auction is a suspect. This novel is told in variety of formats, including journal entries, email, text messages, newspaper stories, and police reports. Ten different characters share their points of view, leaving readers to work out exactly what happened and who might be guilty. Keeping up with all the different perspectives can be daunting, and some entries don't always contribute to the momentum. For fans of realistic fiction with plot twists, mysteries, and epistolary-type novels.-Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.