Book Review: These Things Hidden

I have been trying to read a lot more lately because it’s something that I love to do, but sometimes work and life just get in the way and I can’t do everything that I want to do. I’ve also been getting kind of screwed lately by the books that I’m choosing. A lot of my recent reads have blurbs on the back cover that make it sound like an amazing book, but then I get most of the way into it and it’s boring as hell. I suppose I should start checking my goodreads account to see if anyone else I know has reviewed it prior to getting into  it, but I’m definitely the kind of person who just goes into a bookstore and wanders around for an hour and then comes out with a dozen books. Anyways, on to my latest review: These Things Hidden.

This book was written by Heather Gudenkauf. Her first novel only came out in the past few years and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t “amazing” by any standards. It was a good read and it had a good storyline, but I could tell that it was her first book. That being said, These Things Hidden did not read like it was only her second novel. It read like she had been writing mystery novels for the past 30 years. The idea for the book was excellent and she did really well with character development. You feel bad for every character because they’ve all had to experience things that have been beyond their control for the most part. I will really try my best not to give any spoilers, but if you’re interested in reading this book, please read it first and then read my review. If you like mystery novels, then please go out and get a copy. I read the entire book in less than 2 days and that included working two long shifts in there.

The book begins with one of the main characters in jail. Basically, you learn that she had a baby when she was in high school and because she didn’t know what else to do, she killed the baby. Or so we are led to believe anyways. You’re also introduced to her sister and another girl in her high school. It appears that the other girl she went to high school with also had a baby with the same guy that she did, but it turns out to be so much more than that. You get to read the story from the perspective of the mother, the sister, and the schoolmate, as well as from the perspective of the person that adopted the school mate’s son. Okay, here’s where you should stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers because it’s hard to talk about the rest of the story unless I provide a bit more information. As it turns out, the school mate, a young woman named Charm, did not also have a baby with the same guy. She is the sister of the father. The main character, Alison, has a little girl and we find out that she dies the night she is born. What we learn later on is that she actually has a son as well. She takes the son to the father and says that she can’t handle this and gives him the little boy. As you would suspect, the Dad takes off, leaving the baby with his sister and stepfather. As Charm is also in high school, she eventually needs to give the baby up and leaves him at a fire station. Another good premise of this book is the information they provide about the “Safe Haven” laws in the US (this means that a mother can leave her child at a police station, fire station, or hospital without having to face the legal repercussions of “abandoning” her child). We then find out that it was actually Alison’s sister and not Alison that killed the female baby. The author never goes into exact detail about what is wrong with the sister, but based on the sister’s behaviour, the reader guesses that there is some kind of mental issue (my best guess is schizophrenia or a deep-seeded depression that manifests itself in such a way that the sister become delusional about the world around her – I love analyzing things like this – Gotta love having a Psych degree). From my description, it sounds like your run-of-the-mill mystery novel, but it was so much more. The novel was so twisted and convoluted and it kept me guessing until the very last chapter. It was nice that there was an epilogue as well. That being said, this book didn’t make me question things about myself. I mean, yes, I did think about how I would have responded had I had twins when I was in the 12th grade, but I wasn’t left questioning my own life or my own mortality or anything like that. Overall, I would provide it with a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars (Yes, I’m actually a very critical reader!).

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

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