Secrets We Kept

Three Women of Trinidad

Krystal A. Sital (Author)

 

An eloquent new Caribbean literary voice reveals the hidden trauma and fierce resilience of one Trinidadian family.

There, in a lush landscape of fire-petaled immortelle trees and vast plantations of coffee and cocoa, where the three hills along the southern coast act as guardians against hurricanes, Krystal A. Sital grew up idolizing her grandfather, a wealthy Hindu landowner. Years later, to escape crime and economic stagnation on the island, the family resettled in New Jersey, where Krystal’s mother works as a nanny, and the warmth of Trinidad seems a pretty yet distant memory. But when her grandfather lapses into a coma after a fall at home, the women he has terrorized for decades begin to speak, and a brutal past comes to light.

In the lyrical patois of her mother and grandmother, Krystal learns the long-held secrets of their family’s past, and what it took for her foremothers to survive and find strength in themselves. The relief of sharing their stories draws the three women closer, the music of their voices and care for one another easing the pain of memory.

Violence, a rigid ethnic and racial caste system, and a tolerance of domestic abuse—the harsh legacies of plantation slavery—permeate the history of Trinidad. On the island’s plantations, in its growing cities, and in the family’s new home in America, Secrets We Kept tells a story of ambition and cruelty, endurance and love, and most of all, the bonds among women and between generations that help them find peace with the past.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • February 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-60926-4
  • 5.9 × 8.6 in / 352 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Powerful and heart-wrenching, Krystal Sital's beautifully written memoir, Secrets We Kept, details her family history on Trinidad, as her grandmother and mother finally unleash their voices to uncover the brutal truth of who her grandfather truly was.” — Jean Kwok, author of Mambo in Chinatown and Girl in Translation

“In this stunning, unforgettable memoir, Krystal Sital writes with unflinching honesty, exploring with great depth and complexity her grandmother's liberation after her grandfather's death and the complications that arise from this fiery matriarch's quest to selfhood after years of abuse and servitude. A brilliant account of gender inequality and the burdens we bear as women in the Caribbean.” — Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun

“Once a decade or so, if we're fortunate, comes a book that seems to insist itself into being, on that rises from the heartbreakingly silent depths of the voiceless. Secrets We Kept is that book. It is a love song to the author's Trinidadian mother and grandmother, yes, but it is also a hymn of justice to the ignored and forgotten wounds of enduring and resilient women throughout the ages. It is a tribute to truth in the face of denial. It is a deeply resonant, timely, and necessary work of art.” — Andre Dubus III, author of Townie

“This is a striking book. And the strength, bravery and sheer will of the women will make you glad you read it” — Lucy Kogler, Lit Hub

“Sital’s bracing, loving blend of memoir and family history is not to be missed.” — Booklist

“ A powerful, disturbing narrative in which pain flows out from the page, drenching readers. ” — Kirkus Reviews

“An absorbing, beautifully crafted memoir for all readers.” — Library Journal

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