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Children's Fiction Asian American

The Secret Keepers

by (author) Paul Yee

Tradewind Books
Initial publish date
Jun 2011
Asian American, Horror & Ghost Stories, Emigration & Immigration
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2011
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12


In this novel set in San Francisco's Chinatown before and after 1906, young Jackson Leong has to not only cope with the ghost of his brother who died in the earthquake, but also the mysterious ghost of a young woman who is haunting the family nickelodeon. A masterpiece of historical fiction that will take the reader on a roller coaster journey into the past.

About the author

Paul Yee is one of Canada's finest writers for children. He was raised in Vancouver and has worked in the archives at the Vancouver Museum. He won the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature for Ghost Train. He now lives in Toronto.
Ghost Trainbr>    Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award 1996br>    Winner of the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award 1997br>    Finalist for the Toronto IODE Book Award 1997
The Bone Collector's Sonbr>    Winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award 2004br>    Finalist for the Rocky Mountain Book Award 2006br>    Finalist for the Stellar Book Award (BC Teen Readers' Choice Award) 2005-6br>    Chosen as Best of 2004, Resource
Bamboobr>    Finalist for the Chocolate Lily Award 2007 (BC Readers' Choice Award)br>    Chosen as Best of 2006, Resource Links
The Jade Necklacebr>    Finalist for the Mr. Christie's Book Award 2002

Paul Yee's profile page

Librarian Reviews

The Secret Keepers

Governor General's Award-winning author Paul Yee's masterpiece of historical fiction that will take the reader on a roller coaster journey into the past.

Not only is this a natural disaster survival story, it is a story of the past haunting the present, both literally and figuratively. Paul Yee brings an authentic Chinese voice to his writing and in this book he demonstrates how poetic narrative and personal stories are important to grasp the turmoil and impact of historical events.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

The Secret Keepers

Author Paul Yee’s two new books continue the wonderful work exhibited in his more than 20 previous books – illuminating the Chinese immigrant experience in North America. With The Secret Keepers, he offers a fast-paced historical adventure set in San Francisco in 1907. In Money Boy, he gives us an exciting, edgy novel in which the present-day hero experiences homelessness and explores gay life in Toronto.

The Secret Keepers is a treasure chest of excellent historical fiction. In the foreground, life-like characters wrestle with the same survival problems today’s readers might face; in the background, an uncompromised, perfect portrayal of the past. Yee’s training as an archivist gives him the tools to recreate San Francisco’s Chinatown at the time of the great earthquake. He lightly balances the information part of the setting against an energetic story.

After the death of his elder brother, 15-year-old Jack is responsible for the family business. He discovers that their nickelodeon theatre is haunted by a female ghost that some patrons and Jack, with his yin-yang ghost-spying eyes, can see. As he sets out to solve the mystery of the ghost, he uncovers unsavoury family secrets. At the same time, he is hiding from his mother the fact that he is working at his uncle’s opium den to make the money to pay for the nickelodeon’s reopening. The ghostly secrets of the past and the shadows of Jack’s life collide to make the book’s dramatic ending. With its Asian perspective on spectres, The Secret Keepers may add mysterious, new flavours to teen readers’ occult diet.

“The planet is in trouble and so am I,” notes Ray, the hero of Money Boy. Teenaged Ray is struggling as a newcomer to Canada and, furthermore, he suspects he is gay. When his militant father discovers his son has viewed gay websites, he throws Ray out of the house. Ray is now ‘free’ to explore the parts of Toronto where the lifestyle he has wondered about thrives. He quickly discovers nothing is free and loses his virginity after cruising Money Boy Street where male prostitutes, or money boys, shake their wares. But the journey is not yet over, and the surprising twists in the road lead “home.”

While Jack and Ray are strong heroes that come from different centuries, they are also teens operating with the same desire: to find the money to keep body, soul or family together. Yee’s heroes show human adaptability when push comes to shove, and their powerful stories are terrific teen reading.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2011. Volume 34 No. 4.

The Secret Keepers

Living in San Francisco’s Chinatown before and after the 1906 earthquake, young Jackson Leong must cope with the ghost of his brother who died in this tragic event as well as the mysterious ghost of a young woman who is haunting the family nickelodeon. Jackson must figure out why these ghosts are haunting the living, or his family will face ruin.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

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