Rummanah Aasi
  I was in the mood for a suspenseful, contemporary read when I stumbled upon Heather Gudenkauf's These Things Hidden on Netgalley. The premise of having a dark past that won't seem to leave you alone immediately caught my eye. Unfortunately, due to my large to be read pile, I wasn't able to read These Things Hidden until now.

Description: Allison Glenn is 21 years old when she is released on parole after serving five years for an undisclosed but particularly gruesome crime. Disowned by her family and facing a small town's inability to forget her sins, Allison reluctantly moves into a halfway house in order to turn a new chapter in her life. When she work at a local bookstore, she unexpectedly discovers the key to that one night that changed her life forever as well as allow her some hope for a potential future.

Review: These Hidden Things is a dark and disturbing story that seems so real, it could be the latest headlines in the news. The book is told from the point of view of four women, who are from different walks of life. Allison was once a shining star for her parents. She got the top grades, was great at sports, and well liked by those in her school. All of this came tumbling down one frightful night and now she is only known for her heinous crime that follows her like a shadow. Brynn is Allison's younger sister who is often neglected by her family. Besides Allison, Brynn knows what truly happened that night and it has haunted her ever since. Claire is a loving wife who longed to have her own child. Due to infertility issues, Claire's prayers were answered when she adopted a baby boy named Joshua. Charm is a nursing student who is struggling to take care of her ailing stepfather and checks up on Joshua, from a distance, to make sure he is well loved by a good family. All of these relationships collide and have one thing in common: Joshua. The reader tries to solve the mystery given the hints that are revealed both in the present as well as flashbacks.
   The characters in this book are kind of flat and two dimensional. The author doesn't dig deep enough into their layers, but she does demonstrate their emotions quite well in inner monologues. Each of the four women are assigned two chapters each, however, I didn't feel like I got to know them quite well. Though there are strong emotions of resentment, guilty, and betrayal, they don't seem to hit hard enough. The secondary characters such as Allison and Brynn's parents and Charm's mother are already defined for us as cold and trashy, respectively, however, I would have liked to come to that decision of my own. There is not much given as to why they are labeled that way. The only character that seems to seem come alive is Joshua, the precocious 5 year old whose past is shrouded in mystery.
  Although I found the character development quite lacking, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what really happened to Allison and why was she thrown in prison when she was a teen. I also wondered how all these four characters will meet and what was their connection to poor, innocent Joshua. Needless to say, the suspense was gripping and perfectly pitched. I did not see the end coming and was horrified when the mystery was solved. Fans of contemporary suspense, mystery, and books by Jodi Picoult should definitely look into this title.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, allusions to sex, and a graphic birthing scene/flashbacks. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf, The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell, After by Amy Efaw, or Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
4 Responses
  1. I've wanted to read this ever since I first heard about it!

  2. Daisy Says:

    This really was such a page-turner! I had a hard time connecting to the characters as well and I think the alternating POV was a huge factor in that. Wasn't what really happened horrifying?

  3. Jenny Says:

    While the lack of character depth is a bit disappointing, the fact that you were horrified when the mystery was solved has me really wanting to pick this one up to see if I'm equally horrified! Sounds like this is one of those instances when a strong story begins to make up for mediocre characters, and though it's not my ideal scenario when I read, you've made me definitely want to give it a try!

  4. Bookish: It definitely got and held my attention throughout the book. Give it a shot!

    Daisy: Definitely! My jaw dropped at the end and had goose bumps when I finished it.

    Jenny: I really think the suspenseful plot made up for the characters. I was on pins and needles waiting to see how all the characters connected with one another. If you do decide to pick it up, I'd love to read your thoughts. :)

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