Thursday, 26 May 2011

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

Imprisoned for a heinous crime when she was just a teenager, Allison Glenn is now free. Desperate for a second chance, Allison discovers that the world has moved on without her...

Shunned by those who once loved her, Allison is determined to make contact with her sister. But Brynn is trapped in her own world of regret and torment.

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...

These Things Hidden is not the type of book I usually read and enjoy, but I was intrigued enough by the description to say yes to a review copy. I found myself reading late into the night, saying 'just one more chapter, just one more chapter...' as I took on this gripping book. These Things Hidden is a startling, complex look at the mother-child relationship, and how different women react to it.

We principally follow the story of Allison, and I loved the way that we gradually discovered the reasons behind her jail sentence. This was handled beautifully by Gudenkauf, who gave compelling and realistic reasons for every one of Allison's actions. Despite the fact we should dislike this woman for the crime she committed, it is easy to feel great sympathy for her plight and her estrangement from her family and the life she had before.

Alongside Allison, we are shown the viewpoints of Brynn, Allison's sister, and Charm, the girl who has become embroiled in the secrets of the two sisters. Gudenkauf does sterling work presenting very different voices for these three women, and showcasing how their situations have led to the way they react when encountering Joshua Kelby, a boy who is about to become central to their lives.

These Things Hidden is a quiet story, with a chilling denouement that I just did not see coming. In fact, there were a number of twists in this relatively short book which kept me guessing. This, alongside the short chapters, meant I compulsively read These Things Hidden every chance I got - literally opening the book for five minutes while I waited for my work computer to boot up because I couldn't wait any longer to read more about Allison, Brynn and Charm. Make sure you set aside a lengthy period of time to enjoy These Things Hidden.

This is a lyrical and very poignant book, which surprised me on all levels. I am definitely going to be picking up more work by Heather Gudenkauf.


  1. I've just been leant a copy of The Weight of Silence by this author. I haven't read any of hers before, so I was interested to read your review.

  2. I really enjoyed this one too!