All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

These Things Hidden – Heather Gudenkauf

on February 10, 2011

So, this is actually the very first eGalley that I completed reading on my Kindle. That was way back in October of last year but given it wasn’t due to be published until this year, I held off on the review for a couple months.

Allison Glenn has just been released from 5 years in prison. Her sentence was 10, but she’s been released early for good behaviour and because the system considers her rehabilitated and unlikely to ever reoffend. Prior to her imprisonment, Allison was perfect – good grades, participation in multiple team sports at her high school, aiming to get into law school. Her wealthy but distant parents push her hard, always expecting nothing but the best from her. She is attractive and popular, much more so than her younger-by-only-one-year sister Brynn. Brynn is shy, struggles for good grades and doesn’t participate in any sports. She has few friends and lives in Allison’s shadow. Despite this, the two are close.

Or, were close. Brynn hasn’t spoken to Allison since Allison was arrested for the sickening crime, despite all of Allison’s best efforts. Attempting suicide after Allison is sent to jail, her parents send her to live with her grandmother in another town and Brynn relishes the anonymity. She can complete high school and start college without the stares, the whispers behind her back, and quite often, to her face. She harbours a passionate love for animals and soon begins working at a shelter. She also has quite the small zoo at home with her grandmother, lavishing them with love. They fill a void left by her family.

Charm is a student nurse who is busy looking after her stepfather who is slowly dying of lung cancer. Five years ago, that fatal night Allison committed her terrible crime, Allison came to Charm and left her with something for keeping. Charm tried, boy did she try, but her stepfather was getting sick and she was a mere 15 years old. So she took the precious legacy to somewhere where she knew it would be looked after. Somewhere that would ensure it got all it ever needed.

Claire is in her 40s and owns a bookstore in the small town where Allison, Brynn and Charm all went to school. When Allison is released into the community, into a halfway house for troubled women, the state convinces Claire to give her a job at the bookstore. With the wages paid for by the state, Claire sees no problem. After all – everyone deserves a second chance, don’t they? And the free time will allow her to spend more time with her adopted 5yo son, Joshua. Joshua is a special child, just beginning school and Claire wants to make sure she is there for him. After all, she wanted a baby so badly.

There were things I really liked about this book and a few little nitpicky things I didn’t. Firstly, the POV is split between all of the aforementioned women, although in several cases it’s first person and in one or two others, it’s third person. That got a little frustrating, and I think that one form would’ve worked better for a smoother transition between the points of view. It occasionally almost felt like I was reading two novels entwined into one because I personally don’t particularly like novels that switch from first to third person. But that’s a personal preference and really, what didn’t really work for me could work for lots of other people. Secondly, without giving anything away, Allison’s secret – how exactly she kept it, I’m not exactly sure. I see TV shows and newspaper articles relating to it but I just don’t see how it can happen. If/when anyone has read the book and wants to comment on this, please do! I’d love to hear some other opinions!

Okay, now onto what I liked – pretty much everything else really. I liked the characters – Allison is at the beginning, when you find out what she’s done, a very unsympathetic character. You don’t really feel for her -and well, you really shouldn’t, and I think the author did a brilliant job of making you really quite skeeved out about her. Brynn is well done as the completely messed up, far less stronger sister and Charm is likable and dedicated. I absolutely adored her relationship with her stepfather Gus, I thought that was a real highlight of the novel. He seemed like a wonderful man and her devotion to him in his time of need was lovely. I won’t lie – I did tear up a couple of times in scenes between these two. I thought that they were beautiful and not at all overdone. Lung cancer is a terrible thing to watch someone go through and I think Gudenkauf highlighted that without screaming it into your face. Claire was also a likable character and enough background was given about her struggle that you really felt for her and you also saw just how grateful she was to have Josh and how much she loved that little boy. Her husband, too. They were obviously wonderful parents and really deserved the opportunity to raise Josh and cherished it. So the relationships were well constructed in this novel. Never once did I really see a link between characters not enjoy it. Even the dysfunctional relationships, such as the one Charm has with her mother, or the ones Allison and Brynn have with their parents are believable and make me grateful for the relationship I have with my own parents.

I’m one of those people that reads a book and then a major twist happens and I go all “wtf? Where did that come from? I so did not see that coming!” and everyone else is all “how did you not see that? I saw that from like, the second page!” Anyway, needless to say, this book, towards the end has a massive twist that I really did not see coming at all and that I absolutely loved as a storyline. It made so much more sense than what had been portrayed all along and it really stepped the book up a notch for me. I’m really trying very hard not to say anything about it because I want everyone to go in and read this book with no spoilers. It’ll be better that way.

7/10

These Things Hidden is out now.

**Note: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Book #129 of 2010


4 responses to “These Things Hidden – Heather Gudenkauf

  1. Jenny says:

    I agree with you about the twist at the end!

  2. I’m already guessing what happened and who is who and what you can’t believe Allison hid and nobody knew. I won’t blow it for anyone, but I’m also not going to read it if I’ve already figured out the plot. Unless, she’s coming back for that little something she left behind. Hmmm, maybe I don’t know everything. I’ve seen all good reviews on this so far and you seemed to like it a lot. When my TBR stack gets below 30 I’ll get it!

    Heather

  3. […] was a bit light on posts this week due to being busy but I did review Heather Gudenkauf’s These Things Hidden which I read back in October of this year but was only released recently, so I posted my review […]

  4. I am eager to read this one…I read The Weight of Silence by this author last year.

    Sometimes I think the switch between POV makes sense and other times, not so much.

    I’m curious about this one now.

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