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Review: These Things Hidden, Heather Gudenkauf

these things hiddenAllison Glenn has done her best to hide what happened the night she was arrested, but people always find out. Five years later, she’s out of prison, but she isn’t sure she’s happy about it; in prison she had peace for the first time in her life. Though everyone knew what she’d done, they’d done heinous things themselves. Out in the world, though, she is judged and condemned without an opportunity to speak up for herself. Her sister has been open to the criticisms for five long years, dealing with the stigma of that night, and wants nothing to do with Allison ever again. But Allison won’t give up and her perseverance will have consequences not only for herself and her sister, but for an innocent little boy and his family as well.

These Things Hidden is a book that starts out fairly slow but more than makes up for its drawn out beginning. Because it’s only a short book, I was surprised at how many characters were introduced over the course of the first fifty pages; there are four perspectives and each have their own supporting characters. I suspect it felt longer than it was because I was most drawn to Allison’s story and I wanted to get back to her immediately! Lucky for me (and the book’s momentum), the individual stories began to be interwoven almost immediately and all of them are necessary for the central mystery of the book.

Essentially, finding out what exactly happened that night, when Allison got arrested and destroyed her family’s life, is the underpinning of the entire book. Bits and pieces are made clear as the story goes along, but it doesn’t all wrap up until the end of the book. It’s an important driver for the rest of the book, which is a more emotional look at family love all around. Each character has a completely different relationship with her immediate family. Claire and her husband have been unable to conceive and have been able to adopt Joshua. Charm loves her stepfather, but has a difficult relationship with every other member of her family. And obviously, Allison and Brynn’s relationships with their families have changed drastically since that night and continue to evolve. They’re all very different structures, but the women are connected.

One thing I really appreciated about the book as well was how different each of the women’s voices were. I don’t know about you, but often when I’m reading a book with multiple narrators, they start to blend together. I hardly ever notice chapter divisions and there have definitely been times when I’ve sped through a book, the perspective has changed, and I haven’t realized that I’m in someone else’s head. That doesn’t happen here; each woman is distinct, with her own story to tell. The only one I struggled to relate to was Brynn. While I couldn’t understand all of their actions, I understood hers the least, but I think if I had gotten further inside her head it would have been a bit worrying.

These Things Hidden is a compelling novel that explores the relationships between women and their families in real depth while providing enough plot to keep the pages turning. Recommended.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free for review from a publicist.

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