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Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad

"One reads Sital's story appalled and moved by the suffering of these indomitable women…A reader can only applaud the author who has so skillfully preserved them in such loving, precise detail."

- Sheila Kohler, New York Times


"Krystal A. Sital brings the generations of her family powerfully to life, rendering their struggles and determination with courage and compassion. I love how it is first the sense of voice that constitutes place; it means that the most vivid world I find myself in is the one inside each of Sital's family members, rendered with an honest, rigorous love."
- Tracy K. Smith, author of Ordinary Light and Poet Laureate of the United States


"Once a decade or so, if we're fortunate, comes a book that seems to insist itself into being, on that rises from the heartbreakingly silent depths of the voiceless. Secrets We Kept is that book. It is a love song to the author's Trinidadian mother and grandmother, yes, but it is also a hymn of justice to the ignored and forgotten wounds of enduring and resilient women throughout the ages. It is a tribute to truth in the face of denial. It is a deeply resonant, timely, and necessary work of art."
- Andre Dubus III, author of Dirty Love, Townie, & Gone So Long


"Powerful and heart-wrenching, Krystal Sital's beautifully written memoir, Secrets We Kept, details her family history on Trinidad, as her grandmother and mother finally unleash their voices to uncover the brutal truth of who her grandfather truly was."
- Jean Kwok, author of Mambo in Chinatown, Girl in Translation, & Searching for Sylvie Lee


"In luminous, aching prose, Krystal A. Sital summons a rich polyphony of voices, spanning generations. As these voices build and weave with dazzling intricacy across the years and the miles, they form a reckoning, a prayer, an unforgettable testament to the strength of women in response to violence, the myriad ways that they are able to remake the unspeakable into extraordinary acts of love. Sital's ability to look straight at the unspoken traumas of her family and give them voice, with both compassion and unsparing honesty, is the ultimate expression of love."
- Inara Verzemnieks, author of Among the Living and the Dead


"In this stunning, unforgettable memoir, Krystal Sital writes with unflinching honesty, exploring with great depth and complexity her grandmother's liberation after her grandfather's death and the complications that arise from this fiery matriarch's quest to selfhood after years of abuse and servitude. A brilliant account of gender inequality and the burdens we bear as women in the Caribbean."
- Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun & Patsy


"Intricate, searing, Krystal A. Sital's multi-generation tale draws from the true voices of the women in her family. Written in prose both gently loving and harrowing, she gives us their pain, their endurance―and their ultimate strength. A remarkable feat of storytelling, a testament to the power of listening, and a crucial contribution to Caribbean literature."
- Marina Budhos, author of Watched & The Professor of Light


"Krystal A. Sital's Secrets We Kept is a masterful exploration of family history and hurt. With her grandfather unresponsive and close to death, Sital bears witness to her mother and grandmother's recollections of life in Trinidad with him and tries to reconcile two versions of this man: the gentle grandfather who played with her, and the tyrant who beat his wife, sister, and children. Secrets We Kept investigates storytelling itself and the gaps between a life lived and its different, at times clashing depictions. It should be required reading for students of creative nonfiction."
- Jeannie Vanasco, author of The Glass Eye & Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl


"Krystal A. Sital is no less than a ventriloquist, giving breath and voice to three generations of courageous Trinidadian women through bracing, evocative prose."
- Gaiutra Bahadur, author of Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture


"This is a striking book. And the strength, bravery and sheer will of the women will make you glad you read it"
- Lucy Kogler, Lit Hub


". . . a light is shed on the many tribulations Krystal's foremothers had to endure in order to survive . . . Not only is Secrets We Kept an enthralling memoir through every page, but it brilliantly reveals the gender inequality that too commonly takes place throughout the Caribbean and around the world."

PopSugar "21 Inspiring Books Written by Women You Simply Can't Miss In 2018


". . . this is also a profoundly American book . . . It is a harsh, gritty truth, one which is not easy to tell . . . its examination of how violence begets violence, pain begets pain. Sital knows, perhaps as well as anyone, that the theme of her book is absolutely timely, painful, and necessary. A culture of harm creates only more harm. But within that, there is survival. Sital's writing is elegant, tender, brimming with feeling below the surface: a cursive bruise . . . In this book, and in life, women survive, and that might be one of the most important things about us."

The Military Spouse Book Review


"Through her family story, author Krystal Sital examines the widespread nature of domestic violence in Trinidad, where it has traditionally been considered a private family matter . . . raw and intimate . . . the Trinidad Sital vividly evokes is rigidly divided by class and race . . . suffused with a fierce compassion."

The Christian Science Monitor


Abandonment, abuse, patriarchy, walking the often hyper-tense tightrope between cultures and genders, informs so much of this exquisite book—as does the earnest telling of women's stories. Sital is not exactly unaware that she carries inherited mourning, inherited memory and inherited abuse, but until she asks her mother and grandmother for their stories of her grandfather, she doesn't fully realize the depth of the pain and suffering that has leached into her being. This is a striking book. And the strength, bravery and sheer will of the women will make you glad you read it."

LitHub "17 Books You Should Read This February"


"Secrets We Kept is about Krystal Sital's grandmother's life as a widow, and the complicated freedom she found after her husband's death."

Electric Lit "46 Books By Women Of Color To Read in 2018"


"Any romantic, sunny notions about Caribbean island life vanish quickly in this stark account of a place where cultures clash, men dominate, and women often suffer . . . A powerful, disturbing narrative in which pain flows out from the page, drenching readers."



"Krystal Sital unlocks the Secrets We Kept."

Vanity Fair "What To Read This Month"


"An absorbing, beautifully crafted memoir for all readers."

Library Journal


"Sital's bracing, loving blend of memoir and family history is not to be missed."