Monday, February 14, 2011

These Things Hidden / by Heather Gudenkauf

"I have no money, no job, no friends and my family has disowned me, but I'm ready. I have to be."

There aren't many secrets in tiny Linden Falls. So when 
popular teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for an unspeakable crime, it's not just her previously flawless reputation that gets tarnished. Her family suffers too, so much so that they want nothing to do with her after her release five years later. Her parents even deny Alison's existence, cutting ties with their daughter in abrupt fashion and doing the whole "never mention her name" bit. No one seems to pity Allison: her former friends whisper maliciously about her, classmates jealous of her beauty and talent glory in her downfall and others join in the constant mocking of her younger sister Brynn in the school hallways. Brynn herself mirrors her parents disdaining attitude but can't help be drawn back to the night of the incident and the real truth about what took place. It may seem like Brynn's burden to bare, and her parents to a lesser extent, but others are involved.

Others like Charm Tullia who seems removed from the Glenn family's circumstances but perhaps not so far as she'd like. Currently caring for her ailing stepfather while going to school to become a nurse, Charm would like to forget the past but also can't hide from the truth and what she knows. Also involved are Claire and her husband Johnathan, the local booksellers who've recently adopted a little boy, Joshua, who was found abandoned near the town's firestation. Knowing little about the Allison incident yet drawn in all the same by the web of secrets steadily permeating through the town, the young couple and their young son soon find that they too are a part of the past, a very big part indeed. Gudenknauf's The Weight of Silences was a dazzling debut. And while These Things Hidden doesn't carry the same allure and novelty, it's no slouch either. A literary thriller of sorts in which the oh-so-horribly scandalous incident driving the narrative isn't revealed until much later, the author paints a vivid portrait of interconnected lives and how even the smallest choices matter. With tidily hinted clues implanted throughout, the story is one which will peak reader interest all the way until the final penultimate revelation sets everything anew and changes everyone's lives forever. (FIC GUDENKAU)

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