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Hidden Paperback – February 1, 2011

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on a news article written for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Mournian's exquisitely written and impossibly sad fiction debut charts America's latest version of the Underground Railroad. When 15-year-old Ahmed inadvertently outs himself to his parents, they take him to a residential treatment center in the Nevada desert, Serenity Ridge, where he's tortured, molested, and put through a "straight" rehabilitation program. After 11 months, Ahmed manages to escape to a safe house for runaway gay teens in San Francisco, where he meets a slew of other kids like himself, all with their own stories to tell, most just as traumatizing as his own or worse. But life inside the safe house is never entirely safe, as Ahmed, now known as Ben, learns to his sorrow just as he begins to let his guard down. Regardless of their sexual orientation, readers will wait with baited breath to the end, almost suffocating on the palpable sense of fear and claustrophobia that permeates this heartbreaking story. (Feb.)
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"Mournian's exquisitely written and impossibly sad fiction debut charts America's latest version of the Underground Railroad."
-Publisher's Weekly

"Hidden was terrifying, triggering and without a doubt one of the best novels I've read in very long time ... A stunning debut novel."
- LAMBDA Literary Review

"If you put The Diary of Anne Frank and Francesca Lea Block's Weetzie Bat into a blender and added a bit of spice, you'd get Hidden."
- American Library Association

"Mournian evokes the claustrophobia of a confined life, the terror of an uncertain future and the heartbreaking reality of family rejection with brilliant, ferocious insight in this one-of-a-kind debut."
- Richard La Bonte, Book Marks

"Hidden" is an easy book to get caught up in. Author Tomas Mournian switches gears by adding a tiniest amount of malevolence to the discomfort of a dozen varied personalities packed in a small area for an unspecified time. This only ratchets up the tension, making "Hidden" a heart-pounder. It's only a book. Those are the words you'll want to remember while reading this pulse-racing novel."
- Washington Blade

"In this bold, heart-wrenching coming-of-age novel, 15-year-old Ahmed confines the truth about his homosexuality to the pages of his notebook. Mournian vividly depicts the toll of Ahmed's sexual repression, "I wasn't just an outsider, I was an outsider among outsiders. Alone."
- More Magazine

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 387 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758251319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758251312
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,000,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

read Huffington Post article, "Facing the Truth about #Reparative Therapy & #America'sWar on #Gay-Teens"

Journalist, Novelist, & Social Justice Activist, Tomas Mournian has been published by Marie Claire, Los Angeles, InStyle, and Huffington Post. For the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Tomas Mournian investigated and wrote 'Hiding Out', breaking the news story about gay teens who escaped from reparative-therapy "schools" and gay-to-straight bootcamps into an underground network of San Francisco safehouses. 'Hiding Out' won the Peninsula Press Club, East Bay Press Club and a GLAAD Media award. "Hiding Out" (watch it here:, a documentary based on the article and produced by Tomas Mournian, was shown by George Michael during Equality Rocks. A member of PEN/USA, Tomas Mournian rewrote 'hidden' while in residency at Yaddo (where he was awarded the prestigious Eli Cantor Chair), studied at UC Berkeley and lives in Los Angeles. He can usually be found somewhere in the sun; with a book, coffee, yoga mat, or chocolate milkshake in hand.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jessica N. on April 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I can already tell you right now that this review is going to be a jumble of thoughts. I finished reading Hidden just a few moments ago and I'm not even sure how to explain what is going on in my head right now. It's a blur of emotions really. Hatred. Disgust. Pure and utter sympathy. Understanding. This is one of those books that I can't even classify as a tough read. No, it's more like a necessary read that tears your heart out, gives you tons of new information you never knew you needed to know, then puts you back together into a much more whole person. Does that make any sense at all?

Although the synopsis shows the story focusing around Ahmed, and it does, there are so many more vivid characters that are presented to the reader. Ahmed, or Ben as he is known throughout most of the book, is wrenched out of his "normal" existence and placed into a treatment center for queer teens. His parents have one thought. To get him out of their lives until a "cure" for what he is can be found. When he finally finds the means of escape, he is thrown into an underground world full of people who understand him, even if they don't quite understand themselves. These characters, and their dark pasts, become a sense of introspection for Ben as he navigates his way through his new found "freedom".

Yes, this book is gritty. It's realistic. Reading it was like watching a documentary unfold. I began to believe in the characters between the pages. I rooted for them. I felt for them and wanted to understand them. I wish I could say more, but honestly Hidden is such a complex and masterful piece of work that nothing I say can truly do it justice. To say that this book touched me is an understatement of the deepest kind.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By William on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I wanted to like this book so badly, and the protagonist's voice was certainly original, but the plotting was so improbable that it was impossible for me to become emotionally invested in him or the narrative. One example: in the beginning the lesbian strippers (!?!) who rescue him from his rehab center drop him the owner of the rehab's house? And tell him to go behind it and run up these stairs and then down a hill which will lead him to where some other people are going to meet him. Whaaaa? Why not just drive him to or near the next people who are going to meet him? Because then the owner wouldn't have the opportunity to see him through the window and release a bunch of dobermans who chase him as he climbs over a fence's beyond ridiculous. Was this done as a fantastical JT Leroy-type fable I could have gone along on the journey, but clearly you are meant to believe that all of this is occurring in the real world, and it just doesn't work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Rockwell on May 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
I had a review of this book and because I have a deep concern for the damgers that gay young folks face in spite of our "liberated" or at least, more accepting, culture, I decided to get a copy in spite of the fact that I am in the midst of reading "Bleak House" (a long put-off project; if you like Dickens, don't wait). I digress.

I can't remember the last time a novel had me so transfixed; after I bought it, I started, then stopped because I wasn't sure I could handle any more of the story right then. And then I had to read more, and then I stopped, repeated this for several days. Mr. Mournian has created characters you care about and allows you to share the pain and the reality that they experience. The pain, the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy (not very pleasant fantasy, scarcely better reality), is all too vividly portrayed.

I want to thank the author for writing and eye-opening book that stays with you. Don't let the subject matter put you off; if you care about gay teens. You owe it to yourself and others to read it...and then get involved, whether it's with a project like "It Gets Better" or a more local organization. You'll be glad you did....And then get involved, whether it's with a project like "It Gets Better" or a local organization that tries to promote a safe environment for gay teens.

If this novel doesn't make you think and care, nothing will.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on January 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
This debut novel tells the story of Ahmed, a gay 15 year old boy who is sent by his parents to a residential facility that supposedly will turn him straight. After eleven months of abuse at the hands of the facility's staff, Ahmed fakes a severe toothache to get his parents to pick him up for medical care, and then escapes from them at the first rest stop. It is there that he meets up with an underground network of facilitators who transport him to nearby San Francisco, where he hides out in an apartment filled with other teens in similar situations. Forced to stay out of sight, to dye his hair and adopt a new name (Ben), he quickly forms a common bond with the other male and female inhabitants of this overcrowded "safehouse," learning as much about them as they are cautiously willing to share. He makes friends, potential enemies, develops crushes, and ultimately learns to trust some people and be wary of others. All the time, they know that the apartment door might be broken down any minute, and they could end up being sent back to the facility. It's a thought that gives many of them a fatalistic approach to life, making it even more dangerous for everyone there.

Author Mournian has a background as a journalist, and based this story on the real-life similar safehouses and rescue network that he uncovered in a feature he wrote for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. It is a well-written, emotionally raw chronicle of what some misguided parents put their kids through, thinking it will bring them closer together, when the exact opposite is the only possible result. This is a highly recommended, powerful book with a compelling message about acceptance and love for all. Five stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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