Smith, Lindsay. Sekret. Roaring Brook Press, 2014. 345 pgs. ISBN 978-1-59643-892-7. $17.99 Ages 14-20. P6Q9
With a resurgence of interest in the 1960’s in popular culture, as well as the consistent interest in spy stories, this teen book should be well received by both male and female readers. It is a dystopian tale which takes place in 1964, when the space race between America and Russia was at its most competitive and both countries were known to have spies operating within their enemy’s borders.
Yulia Chernina is the seventeen year old daughter of former high-ranking Communist Party members, who, with her mother and brother, are fugitives in their own country. Yulia is kidnapped and coerced into using latent psychic powers for the KGB to find other Russian rebels and American spies. A whole group of teens with a variety of psychic powers are thrown together to work together, or to betray anyone within their ranks who does not want to cooperate.
It is an exciting story with plenty of real historical characters and events. Yulia learns through trial and error whom she can trust and fights the regime that wants to control her, eventually making her way to America with her whole family intact. It is a story of freedom and courage and a little bit of romance.
There is a helpful note on Russian names and nicknames at the beginning of the book, and a succinct, but enlightening author’s note at the end to help anyone who is a little fuzzy of American-Russian history from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. It is interesting that the CIA and KGB did actually experiment with psychic abilities, but with “no lasting results.”
July 2015 review by L.R.