BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

Book Blurb: When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.
Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

My Thoughts: Recently I've been reading a lot of genre fiction, primarily urban fantasies and romances, so I was ready for a break when I picked this up. I had no trouble switching gears to read it. In fact, when I first sat down with it, I thought I'd read a few chapters then put it down to do my chores. Two plus hours later, I put it down, completely finished. I had lost track of time and have no idea what played on the tv that I'd left on. I was utterly engrossed reading this book and that hasn't happened in quite a while. 

     The story gripped me from the start. There are four main characters: Allison Glenn, her younger sister Brynn Glenn, their school peer Charm Tullia, and Claire Kelby, a bookstore owner. The story is told from their viewpoints, with each chapter focused on one of the women. Allison and Brynn's chapters are told in the first person while Claire and Charm's are in third person. I found this worked very well and was quite effective. I can't imagine the story being as compelling or effective told from only one perspective. The multiple narrators and perspectives allows Gudenkauf to slowly unfold the story, revealing a little at a time. It's a cliche, but it really is like an onion, peeling away the layers.  We see certain events from more than one viewpoint, like changing the angle of a camera lens or the lighting you use; something new is revelaed each time.
     We don't know initially what Allison's crime is or how she connects to Claire and Charm. Gudenkauf parcels out the information throughout the story but even then, events aren't always as they appear to be. As the story progresses and we learn more about the women and the little boy at the center of everything, I found myself dreading what might come next because I wanted a happy ending for everyone. It was all too easy to imagine the story actually happening, to picture myself hearing it on the tv or on the web. For much of the story I was teary eyed; I empathiszed with all the characters, even when they weren't always likable. Gudenkauf doesn't try to paint any of the characters as perfect or unbeleivable, they all have their flaws and their moments of being unpleasant or unreasonable. This added to the realism and gave it additional depth.

     "These Things Hidden" is not a happy story. Decisions and secrets have consequences, often unpleasant ones, and even trying to do the right thing can cause misery. Yet, the book is full of hope, the possibility of redemption, and the power of love. I loved this book.

Publisher: Mira                                                                          More info: goodreads

Release Date: February 2011

I recieved this book as a print ARC from the publisher.


  1. This book sounds really good. Plus I love the cover...very mysterious and spooky.

  2. I loved this book and I didn't expect to. I wasn't even sure if I'd like it but it sounded intriguing so I wanted to read it. I'm glad I did.

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