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 abusethe harsh legacies of plantation slaverypermeate 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.
Krystal A. Sital was born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and moved to the United States in 1999. A PEN Award finalist and Hertog fellow, she holds an MFA from Hunter College. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Salon, Today's Parent, the Margins, the Caribbean Writer, Brain Child, and elsewhere. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.