Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: These Things Hidden, by Heather Gudenkauf

I requested These Things Hidden from NetGalley a long while back. I was approved, but before I could download the book, the Kindle button disappeared, and by the time I could actually get the book onto my Kindle, it had already been released. So, I never got around to reading it. I saw a review for another book by Gudenkauf on a blog last week, and it reminded me of this book. I’m really glad I finally took the time to read it – I enjoyed it very much.

Allison is being released from prison after serving five years for throwing her newborn baby girl into the river. She is now 21 years old, and must begin her life all over. She is sent to a halfway house in her home town of Linden Falls, Iowa. The actual circumstances of the night Allison gave birth are gradually revealed throughout the book, and not until the very end do we know the whole story. I’m fairly sure you won’t figure it out – at least not all of it – until it is revealed.

The book is narrated from several POVs, including Allison, but also including her sister, Brynn, who helped Allison that fateful night, and suffered so much emotional turmoil that she now lives with her grandmother and won’t talk to Allison at all. Allison’s mother and father have pretty much written off both of their children, and don’t have anything to do with either of them anymore. Claire is another narrator, who owns a bookstore and hires Allison. Charm, the final narrator is a nursing student who lives with her stepdad, Gus, after her mother left him for yet another guy. Gus treats Charm like his own child, but he is dying from lung cancer. Charm likes to visit the bookstore and especially Joshua, Clare’s adopted son, who is five years old.

Joshua is really what brings the four narrators together, but I don’t want to give away any more details. They all face a lot of turmoil because of a horrible situation, and I think you will enjoy how Gudenkauf expertly unwinds the entire chain of events just as we need to know it.

I don’t believe this is marketed as YA, but it is certainly appropriate for teens, especially those that enjoyed Amy Efaw’s After. It’s not an easy book to put down and will appeal to mystery/thriller readers of all ages.

Published by Mira, January 18, 2011
Ebook provided for review by NetGalley
352 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5

I just have to add a personal note. In this book, Charm talks about Gus making kolache, a Czech pastry, from his grandmother’s recipe. My grandmother (of Czech decent) used to make these pastries, and they were so wonderful. There were so many different fillings – fruit, cheese, poppy seed, pecan. Makes my mouth water just thinking of them. She died many years ago, and my mom has made kolache a few times, but not as often as Grandma. It just touched my heart and brought back fond memories to read about that.

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  1. I've always wanted to try kolaches, but I have hesitated because so many people have said kolaches are difficult. Difficult. I must push past my hesitation.

  2. One of my biggest problems with this book was how all of the narrators tied together. It felt too contrived to me. Nice review, though!


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