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The Art of Secrets

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  736 Ratings  ·  181 Reviews
A Fire Destroys . . .
A Treasure Appears . . .
A Crime Unfolds . . .

When Saba Khan’s apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her Chicago high school rallies around her. Her family moves rent-free into a luxury apartment, Saba’s Facebook page explodes, and she starts (secretly) dating a popular boy. Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-rais
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers (first published March 1st 2014)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,994)
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Jul 19, 2015 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
A fun, somewhat unique, and fairly smart YA novel.... There are no vampires, werewolves, evil spirits, or angels in this particular YA author's work. The only monsters or saviors are found within the human heart. While the majority of the characters are sophomores and seniors in high school, my only fault with Klise is the fact that the writing isn't really challenging enough for the average sophomore. The vocabulary and style will not, in my opinion, challenge the average high school reader. Ho ...more
E. Anderson
May 19, 2014 E. Anderson rated it it was amazing
I’ve never read a book quite like THE ART OF SECRETS by James Klise. Told in multiple perspectives, almost entirely in the form of discourse and conversation (with the occasional journal entry from protagonist, Saba Kahn), THE ART OF SECRETS is part mystery, part drama, and so very fun to read.

In the wake of a fire that destroyed her family’s home and all of their belongings, Saba Kahn has gone from almost invisible at her Chicago prep school (where she is a scholarship student) to borderline no
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Brian
Cover Story: Working Cover
Drinking Buddy: In a Smokey Bar, a Package Changes Hands Under a Table
Testosterone Level: The Monsters are Due on Maple Street
Talky Talk: Whodunnit?
Bonus Factors: Diversity, Teachers Have Feelings Too
Bromance Status: I'm Going to Keep My Eye On You

Read the full book report here.
Veronica of V's Reads
First of all, this book has, roughly, seven narrators. As noted in the blurb, the story itself is a collection of interviews, journal entries, newspaper articles, texts and emails. It's bedlam, in the best way.

Saba's family is from Pakistan. She was born and raised here, but her parents are traditional. They are, perhaps, more indulgent than other immigrant families allowing Saba to dress in modest Western clothing and compete on the school tennis team as long as her body is covered. We learn th
Kym Brunner
Jul 28, 2014 Kym Brunner rated it it was amazing
I loved so many things about this book:

1) the fact that it doesn't use quotation marks because the dialogue is summed up and one-sided––very unique!
2) the mystery kept me guessing and re-guessing "whodunit"
3) I met the author and he's a delightful person
4) tons of Chicago references that I could picture
5) it's multi-cultural and felt authentic

Awesome job, James!
May 12, 2016 Janine rated it really liked it
My first response to this book is, I don't know if I have ever read a book where I so universally disliked pretty much every character. st the same time, the book is set up in such a way that the characters presented in the book could really be any average person anywhere. so the act of disliking the students, teachers, and other characters is kind if like disliking people in general. Which I admit to feeling sometimes, but was hard to come to terms with in the telling of this story.

As far as th
Oct 22, 2015 Jennie rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nakeisha Campbell
Apr 20, 2014 Nakeisha Campbell rated it it was amazing
The book begins with an insightful definition of the term “outsider art,” which, according to Chicago’s Center for Intuitive & Outsider Art, is: “work of artists who demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who instead are motivated by their unique personal vision.”

It didn’t just set the perfect tone for the rest of the story, but it also perfectly described this book.

Klise’s ability to piece together such a fascinating story with journal entries, texts, emails, newspa
*I received an advanced reader copy through the Goodreads First Reads program! This is my honest review.

A mysterious fire begets mysterious abandoned artwork, which begets an equally mysterious art theft. In The Art of Secrets, puzzles within puzzles are revealed with rotating perspectives conveyed through journal entries, text messages, interviews and newspaper articles. It unfolds as an investigation, without a reliable narrator, which armchair detectives may enjoy, but the slow unraveling cou
Mar 27, 2016 Hermochi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5. Me ha gustado mucho la narración, con estos personajes que son entrevistados pero que cuentan mucho más de lo que diríamos en apariencia, como si la entrevista fuera una excusa para decir todo lo que están pensando. He disfrutado con que sea tan coral. También me gusta la crítica que se hace de una manera tan indirecta, dejando al lector toda la interpretación de lo que el escritor muestra. La trama ha sido bastante sencilla, pues el misterio no tenía demasiado, pero me ha parecido una mane ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
When fourteen-year-old Saba Kahn's Pakistani family loses everything in a fire, her classmates at a prestigious private school, spearheaded by the enthusiastic Spoon siblings, decide to have an auction to benefit the Kahns. While dumpster diving, the Spoons find previously unowned works of art by a great, reclusive painter, sure to bring hundreds of thousands or dollars auction. The kids who found the work want to give the proceeds to the family, sparking some jealously among the students, adult ...more
Apr 23, 2016 Lilian rated it liked it
Probably 3.5 stars! Stay tuned for my review!
Mar 31, 2016 Jenny rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable and quick read. A family of Pakistani heritage loses everything in a fire caused by an unknown arsonist. Then two students at the teenage daughter's high school decide to hold an auction to raise money for the family to help them. Priceless artwork by an outsider artist, Henry Darger, is discovered and with a value of $550,000 it will change the family's life when auctioned off. But then the artwork disappears. The story is told through a series of interviews, journal entri ...more
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
Well, that was uneventful.

The Art of Secrets is okay, but just barely okay. It had a twist ending, for sure, but (and here's my problem with the mystery genre specifically) I tend to think that if the twist ending comes right out of nowhere, with little to no explanation why this twist is happening, then I feel like I've been cheated just a little bit. I'm just speculating, but maybe the author wanted us to feel as confused and shocked as our main character, but I just didn't. Aggravated, annoye
May 28, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing
Fascinating whodunnit. Kept me guessing until the very end of the book. There are about a dozen character POVs, and they are all distinct. Well worth the wait for Klise fans.
Shannon Grieshaber
Such a fun, quick mystery - whodunnit style. While Saba Khan is competing in a tennis match with her Pakistani family cheering her on, an arsonist is destroying their Chicago apartment. A pair of do-gooder classmates decide to gather items in order to hold an auction to benefit the Khan family. While the classmates are cruising around the city, looking for reusable junk in alleys for the auction, they discover what turns out to be a valuable piece of artwork. These do-gooders are perfectly happy ...more
Ms. Yingling
Mar 24, 2014 Ms. Yingling rated it liked it
When Saba Khan's Pakistani family's house burns down, there is some suspicion that they might be somehow responsible, but Saba's private school, Highsmith, rallies around the family. They are given a place to live, and new students Kendra and Kevin Spoon decide to put together an auction to benefit the family. In the process, Kevin and Kendra uncover paintings by outsider artist Henry Darger in the trash, and even though the art might be worth millions of dollars, they still intend to give the m ...more
Medeia Sharif
Saba Khan is at a tennis match, with her entire family there cheering her on, when her apartment goes up in flames. Nothing is left and investigators announce that an arsonist is behind the destruction. It’s also possibly a hate crime since the family is Pakistani. Due to the kindness of strangers, Saba’s family gets to stay in a high-rise condo, rent-free, until they can get back on their feet.

The kindness doesn’t stop there. Everyone wants to know Saba. The most popular boy in high school noti
Chelsea Couillard-Smith
Apr 15, 2014 Chelsea Couillard-Smith rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen-fiction
For teen mystery fans, The Art of Secrets offers a well-crafted puzzle with well-paced clues, plenty of plausible red herrings, and a satisfying and entirely realistic resolution. However, the author's choice to rely entirely on interviews, diary entries, emails, and other first-person, one-sided accounts results in a narrative that feels forced and heavy-handed. In order to fit in everything we need to know, characters speak in a way that is exposition-heavy and unrealistic. Readers may also st ...more
Claud (fictionalgeek)
Aug 01, 2014 Claud (fictionalgeek) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Non- Spoiler Review:
I enjoyed this book. The plot twist at the end was something that I definitely did not expect and I liked the originality of the story. When the book ended I just couldn't help but think of how much a slap to the face the plot twist was. The way it was told from different points of views made the story that much more intriguing. Mr. Klise made it seem as if I were actually experiencing what the characters in the story were, the way he made different formats throughout the sto
Kate Alleman
Jul 07, 2014 Kate Alleman rated it it was amazing
I loved how this book showed how different perspectives can cloud the truth. Klise did a good job of raising the question of authentic altruism. Many characters appeared to be helpful, but their motives were selfish or disingenuous. I've seen this style of presenting stories in varied forms of communication (texts, emails, ims, phone calls, etc.) more and more recently. This style is perfect for mysteries. This was an interesting quick read.
Dec 17, 2015 Casandria rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-readers
Great quick read about a mysterious art work and the lives that its discovery touches
May 27, 2014 Kendall rated it liked it
Multiple perspectives and formats tell the story. Not exactly a happy ending, but it seemed realistic. More like 3.5 stars.
Jul 31, 2015 Johnna rated it really liked it
Very interesting plot and I like how the story was written through journal entries, interviews, articles, etc. However, some characters and entries were a little unnecessary and annoying. I liked the ending i was shocked (but also not really). Overall, I thought it was an interesting and short read.
Holly Wagner
Jun 27, 2016 Holly Wagner rated it really liked it
Intriguing and captivating. At the heart of this young adult mystery rests in our struggle to embrace new energy in old and established systems. That energy takes many forms but focuses on Pakistani girl attending an affluent, prestigious private high school steeped in its own culture who ends up relying on the generosity of the school. Told in various voices (an overused literary tool right now, in my opinion) and in various styles (articles, interviews, etc.), we learn the perspectives of the ...more
Emily D.
Sep 18, 2015 Emily D. rated it really liked it

The realistic fiction book, The Art of Secrets, by James Klise portrays the important message of doing your best to help others. Set in a rich area of modern Chicago, The Art of Secrets is told through the eyes of many characters. Each chapter is a different situation, told by a different character, yet all still surrounding one problem, and one girl, high school sophmore Saba Khan. Saba and her family have lost their home because of fire, and the whole neighborhood, plus other friends from sch
Jul 30, 2015 Michele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
The Art of Secrets is an incredible book. It is difficult to summarize. It felt like a combination of The Westing Game, The Outsiders, and an episode of “Castle.” The story begins with a fire in the apartment of a Pakistani girl who is a scholarship student at a wealthy private high school in Chicago. There is much finger pointing and blaming and we are led to believe that the story is going to be about solving the mystery of who started the fire. Quickly though the story progresses through the ...more
Kimi (Geeky Chiquitas)
May 29, 2014 Kimi (Geeky Chiquitas) rated it really liked it
Originally posted at Geeky Chiquitas

Reviewed by: Andrea (guest post)

Actual Rating: 3.5

Saba Khan and her family’s apartment burned down. That’s how it all started. It could have been a hate threat from somebody else, but it could be their own fault too. With friends helping them, they lived in a luxury apartment and Saba studied in a prestigious high school in Chicago. The school started a fund-raising for Saba’s family but then one artwork was revealed to be the work of a famous artist which wen
May 25, 2014 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, young-adult
Saba and her brother and parents come to Chicago from Pakistan. Since Saba's grades are so wonderful, she gets a grant to go to the prestigious Highsmith Academy. Her apartment unit burns completely, while Saba is playing tennis, and her parents are watching. The fire department rules it is arson. Therefore, the Khans are without a place to live and have no possessions in the world. The kids at Highsmith Academy, some out of generosity, and some just to get some fame & future scholarships, h ...more
Um, what?

I have a few issues, unfortunately.

1. Too many characters. Seriously. I do not have the brain capacity to remember them all especially when siblings are involved. Also, I think it undermines the character development and plot.

2. Confusing plot. So many different people propose different viewpoints due to the multiple POVs, and you have no idea who to trust. Even the protagonist (I'm guessing Saba Khan) disappears for a while. I only see her growth mostly at her last POV, and even that
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