Book Review: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

16 Feb

Book cover: These Things HiddenGenre: Contemporary fiction

Publisher: Harlequin (MIRA imprint)

Pub date: 1 Feb 2011

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

This book has been sitting on my digital to-read pile for a few months now. I was under the impression that the book was releasing on March 1st, but when I started noticing that many bloggers were posting reviews for it, I realized that the pub date on NetGalley was probably wrong. So I did have to squeeze it in, but I’m very glad I did because this was a very good read.

Synopsis

Allison was the all-American favorite daughter – a straight A student and top player of 4 sports, until something happens to change her life completely.

When we first meet her, 21-year old Allison in being released from jail after being convicted of a heinous crime. She is ostracized by everyone she knew including her own family. Allison is determined to make good with Brynn, her estranged sister who was an unwilling participant in the events that led to Allison being incarcerated. But Brynn is struggling with those memories and all she wants to do is forget.

Review

This story pulled me in and had me interested and invested right from the first page. By having Allison tell us her story, the reader develops a sense of closeness with her. And this sense of empathy stays even when we learn what she did to go to jail. I couldn’t help but sympathize with Allison for the most part.

The story also deals on the one hand with parenting and how different parents can make a difference in the lives of their children. This is very evident in Allison’s family where she is the favorite, the daughter they are very proud of and the one for whom they have the highest hopes. Brynn feels almost invisible to her parents who value only conventional achievement like grades and goals. We also meet other parents and see how their parenting affects their children in good and bad ways.

The story is told from the point of view of four women: Allison, Brynn, Charm and Claire who all have something in  common.

With many tragedies and the weight of sadness of many of the characters, These Things Hidden is not an easy read. But it is a well told story that  deals with very difficult situations. The writing is beautiful, so at no point did I feel a socio-political agenda being pushed – this is an instant turn-off for me.

The reality of what happened is slowly revealed and the story took many twists and turns keeping me enthralled throughout. I read this in a single sitting and in an afternoon – it really had my attention. Gudenkauf is a talented author who is very good with suspense. She keeps revealing a little more of the plot through each of the women.

The story is a great character study and deals with some very tough contemporary issues.

Verdict

Highly recommended. A good choice for book clubs as there is a lot to discuss.

Rating: 5*

*See my Rating policy

Do you agree with my review, or do you think I’m way off? Just want to say hi? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf”

  1. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting February 17, 2011 at 4:06 am #

    Great review, and I agree about it being a difficult but utterly compelling read. I loved the way that the back story was revealed little by little, and the way in which the reader was made to feel for each of the characters despite their pasts.

    • stargazerpuj February 17, 2011 at 8:20 am #

      Thanks. And that’s what I loved about it. I really liked all the characters!

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