Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review Tour: Secrets from Myself by Christine Hart

Secrets from Myself
by Christine Hart


GENRE:   Middle Grade



Twelve-year-old Katelyn has always heard voices and had visions. She's long suspected she was
hearing from past lives. But when she runs away from home and hides out with an old friend in
Vancouver, things become more real. She even finds herself writing the words of someone else in a
diary - the words of someone whose fate was deeply impacted by the Komagata Maru incident.

As Katelyn learns more about the Komagata Maru and the person communicating with her, she
realizes that she has a task to fulfill that will correct a wrong from the past.


Excerpt Two:

As Radhika opens the front door, the warm brightness of their home is breathtaking. The
ceilings are high and I feel instantly out of my league. The faint smell of cinnamon and
cardamom wafts towards us. We remove our shoes, and head directly to the kitchen, a
magazine ready showcase of granite counters and stainless-steel appliances.

Once we’re sitting on barstools at the kitchen island and Radhika has poured us some tea and
set out two fruit plates, I decide it’s time to move things along.

“So, Mrs. Mann, Bryce tells me you found some pictures or papers I can look at for my history

Radhika’s face lights up. “I hadn’t forgotten.” She leaves the kitchen and I hear footfalls on the
front stairwell.

“Don’t worry; the whole point of bringing you over was so you could look at this stuff. Mom loves
her old pictures. But I don’t think she’s got a lot to go on. My grandfather changed his name at
some point after he married my grandmother,” says Bryce.

Radhika reappears with two pieces of fragile old paper to show me. The first is a grainy
photograph. The second looks like a postcard. She holds out the photograph first.

“This is my grandfather and his father not long after they came to Canada. My grandfather and
his wife owned that shop in the picture. I think it was a wedding present to get them started here.
Very generous back then,” says Radhika as she looked thoughtfully at the men.

“I’d say that’s generous for any time. I’d love it if someone bought me a shop.” I accept the
photo from Radhika and cradle it in my hand as I look more closely.

The two men are smiling. One is middle-aged, the other barely out of his teens. It’s hard to
make out detail in the faces. They’re wearing turbans and long tunic shirts. The black-and-white
image makes colors impossible, but they’re light gray in the image. A shop sign is partially
obscured by the pair; only the word GOODS shows through. I flip the photo over. The writing on
the back is Hindi.

I return the precious photo, which Radhika accepts and exchanges for the postcard. It’s not a
postcard, though. It’s a ticket. Under a graphic seal and a couple of serial numbers it reads:

To the Commander S.S.———————
Please provide the bearer with Steerage
Accommodation with food from HONGKONG to
VANCOUVER. Fare ($50 Gold) has been paid to us.

Under the text is a PAID stamp with a date I can’t read. The ticket has been authorized by a
name, which is also illegible. And then:

Agents, Canadian Pacific Railway.
Calcutta 23rd December 1907
B. Hasan

And at the bottom, a name! B. Hasan. Sanjay’s last name! Could this be any relation? Akasha
has never actually named Sanjay’s father. If he changed his name, was this the new name or
the old one?

“This is amazing! This is a real piece of history!” Normally when someone is showing me old
family photos, I have to feign polite interest. Pins and needles are shooting up my spine and
along my arms. I remember myself and hand the card back to Radhika.

“Did you get what you need for your project?” Radhika seems eager to return her keepsakes to
a safe place.

“Would it be all right if I take a photo of each with my phone? Just to keep a copy without putting
your originals in danger.” Radhika smiles and places both items on the counter long enough for
me to click twice with my camera.

“Do you mind if I borrow some paper to make some notes?” I think better of it. What if I really
was just looking at Sanjay and his father, and touching one of their actual tickets? Will I have
another episode right here if I start writing?

“Actually, never mind. I’ll just tap some notes into my phone and email myself.” I smile nervously.
Bryce looks understandably confused.

After another cup of tea, Radhika and Bryce take me back to Arbutus House.

My Review: 4*
Christine Hart has done a very good job with this book. She easily slips between the past and present and brings the details of the story to light very well. To me this book is geared towards mid to late teens and young adults, but I enjoyed it myself. There are some part of the book that are not appropriate for younger teens in my opinion. I do feel the Katelyn's character should of been older. I don't know many 11 year olds who are quite as advanced as her character.

In the book 11 year old Katelyn is psychic. She hears voices from the past, has vivid dreams in which she is a different person and now she is writing in her diary in someone else's language, handwriting and feelings. As she tries to prove this is really happening as she says her mother decides she has mental health problems and puts her into an institution. 

Katelyn decides to do do research to prove this is real and that Akasha was real, as was her plight. Akasha is the person who is taking over her body and writing in the diary. She leaves notes in the diary of her thoughts and feelings. Her loneliness, her sorrow, and her pain. We see how her life ended up after stowing away on the SS Komagata Maru in her boyfriend Sanjay's trunk to come to Canada and start a life together. When they get to Canada and the ship and passengers are turned away the trunk she is hidden in is thrown overboard. Akasha is finally able to escape the trunk and make it to shore. She finds out  the passengers of the ship were not allowed to disembark she is left all alone, with no money, no clothing, and no idea of how to survive or return home. She has to figure out a way to survive.

I love the history aspect of the book, and that true events were woven into the story. I have personally never heard of the SS Komagata Maru. The ship carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, British India was turned away from docking in Canada in 1914. This was part of  the exclusion laws in Canada and the United States were used to exclude immigrants of Asian origin in the early 20th century. Yep I looked it up. Even though I  saw nothing about anyone with Akasha's plight it was still a great history lesson.

I received this book from the Author and Goddess Fish Promotions to read and review.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Located on BC’s beautiful West Coast, I write from my suburban Langley home on the border between
peaceful forests and urban streets.  I love writing about places and spaces with rich history and visually
fascinating elements as a backdrop for the surreal and spectacular.  
In addition to my undergraduate degree in writing and literature, my background also includes
corporate communications and design. I am a current member of the Federation of BC Writers and
SF Canada.
When not writing, I have a habit of breaking stuff and making stuff – in that order – under the guise of
my Etsy alter-ego Sleepless Storyteller.  I share my eclectic home and lifestyle with my husband and
our two energetic children.
Buy links:



Christine Hart will be awarding a paperback bundle of backlist titles: Stalked, Best Laid Plans, and
Watching July (US/Canada only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Follow the tour here: