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-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be an unknown work by famous outsider artist Henry Danger, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba’s life turns upside down again. Should Saba’s family have all that money? Or should it go to the students who found the art? Or to the school? And just what caused that fire?
Greed, jealousy, and suspicion create an increasingly tangled web as students and teachers debate who should get the money and begin to point fingers and make accusations. The true story of the fire that sets events in motion and what happens afterward gradually comes together in an innovative narrative made up of journal entries, interviews, articles, letters, text messages, and other documents.
About the Author
James Klise is the author of Love Drugged, which was an ALA Stonewall Honor Book and received glowing reviews. He lives in Chicago, where he works as a high school librarian. His short stories have appeared in many journals, including StoryQuarterly, New Orleans Review, Ascent, and Southern Humanities Review. The Art of Secrets is his second novel.
“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.”
—Booklist [HC starred review]
“The structure of this book, composed of multiple viewpoints and documents, almost mandates an ensemble production. Its success is enhanced by the well-acted, skillful orchestration of its five narrators.”
“Klise weaves an intriguing story through various voices. . . . The hairpin-rum twist ending will have surprised readers leafing back through the earlier pans of the book to search for foreshadowing, and it will provoke much discussion about who’s a good guy here and who’s a baddie.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This mystery is well-crafted and will leave readers guessing as to the identity of the culprit to the end. This is an excellent addition to collections where mysteries are popular and will give readers much to think and talk about.”