SECRETS FROM MYSELF
by Christine Hart
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.
“I think it’s time to talk about sending you back home,” says Jane.
I am sitting in her office for a session. I am anxious, torn about leaving Vancouver. Arbutus House is starting to suffocate me, but I am not finished. I can’t let Akasha down and I’m certain I can’t do anything for her from Nelson. Proving she was real and finding justice for her murder will take some form of hands-on evidence.
“I don’t really think I’m sick, mentally or physically. I’ve never believed that. I don’t have much control over my little ‘episodes,’ but I would never run away from my mom again, I can promise that. I just don’t know if I’m ready to go home,” I say.
“I hear what you’re saying, but given all the tests you’ve had, and all the therapy we’ve worked through, I think Arbutus House has exhausted what we have to offer you, Katelyn. That said, before we talk about ending your treatment, I do have some things to say I think you’re not going to like.” Jane is wearing a poker face. My skin prickles at the prospect of what she’s about to say.
“I can’t imagine what you’re going to say that would bother me. I’m weird. I’ve heard it all before.” I give a dismissive shake of my head.
“Before, we talked about your attempts to seek attention with your behaviourbehavior. It seemed to me that your mother had to be the intended recipient. But after meeting with you both, separately and together, I don’t think that’s the case. Then I met your friend Bryce at the barbeque and I started to put the pieces together. I think you have strong feelings for him and you haven’t been handling his move to Vancouver very well.” Jane waits for my reaction. I can feel heat flooding my face. If Jane could tell, in one meeting no less, that I have a crush on my best friend, who else has figured it out? I’ve worked so hard to make sure nobody knew!
“How is that any of your business? What does Bryce have to do with my ‘episodes’ and my mental health?” I can’t conceal the offence and anger in my voice.
“When did your condition worsen? When did you really start the strange writing in your diary and having these intense dreams?”
“I don’t know, exactly. I’ve always had blackouts, you know that. It all got worse a few months ago, maybe a little farther back.”
“I’m not saying you did this consciously or even targeted Bryce’s family …” Jane is still talking but her voice fades out of my hearing after the words “targeted Bryce’s family” — as though I’m a malicious stalker. I sit in my chair, folding and unfolding my hands, waiting for the noise to end and for her lips to stop moving.
“Do you think another two weeks here at Arbutus House would prepare you to head back home to Nelson?”
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Can we talk about it again next time?”
“By all means. You’ve done some good work today. I know I challenged you and it was hard to hear what I had to say. You’re being very mature. So I have a homework assignment for you. Do you still have your diary?”
Oh no! She wants to read my diary! I frantically go over in my mind everything my precious book contains. It’s no use. There’s no way I could share even a part of it. In a flash, I picture being forced to hand over the book to Jane or Mariah.
“Yes, I do. I brought it with me when Mom and I left Nelson.”
“Excellent. I want you to write a new entry in your diary. I want you to say goodbye to Akasha. Tell her whatever you want her to know, anything that feels like unfinished business.” Jane’s enthusiasm for this task compels me to ball my fists.
“Do I have to show you when I’m done?”
“Not unless you want to. A diary is a private thing and it’s important for you to know you still have a private space. We would never cross that line unless we feared for your safety, or the safety of someone close to you.”
I do find it comforting to know that she won’t go through my things unless she thinks I’m potentially violent.
“I’ll go ahead and put the paperwork together for your release. We need one final meeting with Dr. Werdiger. He can refer you back to Dr. MacDonald in Nelson. We’ll have your mom come by as soon as she’s able. All we need is her signature and you can go home.”
“Great. That’s great. I’m looking forward to it.”
~Buy SECRETS FROM MYSELF:
From the beginning, I was immediately fascinated with the history backdropping this fictional paranormal story. Secrets from Myself turned out to be very educational. I’d heard of the Komagata Maru but never known much about it. Secrets from Myself got me wondering, and I did some additional reading. Very interesting.
Katelyn’s plight is one seen often in young adult paranormal stories, but the tie-in to historical events gave it more depth. I was a bit confused in the beginning, though. From the book’s blurb, I expected a story of a girl running away and trying to figure things out. When I realized the running away actually took place before the book started, it took me a while to orient myself and figure out exactly what was going on.
The story begins in Akasha’s head, the girl Katelyn writes in her diary as when she’s asleep. I was drawn into Akasha’s story. Then, to find out it was a dream and that I’d be following Katelyn and only getting snapshots of Akasha’s story was a bit disappointing. The writing style also bugged me a little once I reached Katelyn’s point of view. For Akasha, the more formal style was very fitting. But for Katelyn, it just didn’t read like a 12 year old.
I was also confused about Bryce. Katelyn says over and over that she is in love with him, but when they’re together, I don’t get any evidence of even a crush from her. Many of the relationships felt a little forced, especially Katelyn and her “friends” at the rehab facility. Though, I loved her nanny and that she was willing to believe/help Katelyn with her search for the mysterious person in Katelyn’s diary.
I very much wanted to love the ending, but it just left me feeling confused. I felt as though I was told one thing throughout the entire book, and then, suddenly, something else was the case. I love unexpected twists, but this particular one came too far from left field for me to make sense of it.
That said, Secrets from Myself is a cute little story. Overall, I wanted more of everything. If the story kept going and connected Katelyn and Akasha in a much more meaningful way, so much would have been added to what goes on here. As a heroine, Katelyn is great. She’s not afraid to do what she feels needs to be done, even if it means breaking some rules. I would have loved to see her brought into herself fully and seen how far she would have gone if presented with bigger situations.
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.
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.a Rafflecopter giveaway