“An empty mind is a safe mind.”
This quote underscores the main theme of Sekret by debut author Lindsay Smith in describing Russia’s culture. With a flair of YA touch and the supernatural, Smith isn’t someone who is incapable of spelling. In fact, this is intentional. The setting of this book is in 1960’s USSR, and I suppose by spelling “secret” as “Sekret” it reflects the Russian language.
Prior to reading Sekret, I was very interested in Russian history with regards to my European history class. I noticed the innumerable controversies linked to Russian history (Rasputin? Romanov? Babushkas?). This book does a good job of incorporating Russia’s mysteries during its communist years into the story and giving the reader an intimate perspective on its dark history.
The history of Russia is usually thought to be antiquated. After all, Russia experienced its major cataclysmic event in its later years in the height of World War II and the Cold War. Smith doesn’t let this perspective of Russia taint her book, which gives it a certain uniqueness from others. For instance, she gives the reader an introduction to Russia’s patronymic name and nickname that lasted through its radical years as a Communist state up until the modern world. She keeps Russian controversies alive by presenting the reader with the characters’ telepathic powers, which are considered acts of espionage.
However, I was disappointed that she only showed the stereotypical history of Russia. Furthermore, Smith’s character development was very weak and at the end it left me with questions regarding the integrity of some characters. I presume she might have encountered a conflict between maintaining the theme of secrets (after all, majority of the characters can read minds) and moving the plot forward. Overall, I found that Lindsay Smith still needs to fix a few kinks regarding plot holes (unless she’s planning to make a sequel). Historical-wise she did a good job but needs to incorporate in depth details for the setting to further contextualize the story.
The book is available for check out at the Niles Public Library!