Review: These Things Hidden

Allison Glenn tried to hide what happened that night…and failed. The consequence? Five years in prison. Now she’s free. But secrets have a way of keeping you caged…When Allison is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult in her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces the whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn – shy, quiet Brynn – who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released, and is more determined than ever to speak with her sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.–From Amazon

Heather Gudenkauf’s first book, The Weight of Silence, was a fast-paced, suspenseful mystery that kept me turning the pages as fast as I possibly could. Her sophomore novel is a quieter book, still full of secrets, but they are buried under the surface and do not share the same sense of urgency.  While I loved the first book, These Things Hidden did not grab hold of me as strongly. I think, in part, that this is because the book is largely an exploration of motherhood. What does it mean to be a mother? Is a mother the person who gave birth to you or the person who raised you? Are you still a mother if you try to pretend your children no longer exist? Other family relationships are explored, too, but mothers are predominant. I’m not at a place in my life yet where this carries as much emotional weight for me as I’m sure it does for many others.

I was talking to Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner about this the other day. Both of us are in our 20s, and we both read a lot of adult and young adult books. Sometimes the adult books can seem a little too old, and the young adult can feel a little too young. Finding the right book is like being stuck in the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You look forward to saying, “Ah, this one is just right.” Unfortunately, for me, These Things Hidden was on the older side, but I’m sure that for a lot of other readers it is just right.

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