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These Things Hidden Paperback – January 18, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 417 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Gudenkauf's scintillating second suspense novel (after The Weight of Silence) opens with the release of 21-year-old Allison Glenn from prison, where she has served five years for an unspecified but particularly horrible crime. Allison is reluctant to enter a halfway house in her hometown of Linden Falls, Iowa, where "even a heroin-addicted prostitute arrested for armed robbery and murder would get more compassion than I ever will." Allison, her family's former golden girl, secures a job at a local bookstore, but her efforts to resume some sort of normal life are undermined by her well-to-do parents' indifference, her sister's hatred, and the stigma of her conviction. Meanwhile, one little boy holds the key to the tragedy that led to Allison's imprisonment. The author slowly and expertly reveals the truth in a tale so chillingly real, it could have come from the latest headlines. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Four women�s lives come together at one point of convergence: Joshua, a five-year-old boy. For two of the women, the connection is clear: Claire, Joshua�s adoptive mother, went through hell to have a child, and Charm, who gave Joshua up after wrestling with her inability to care for him. The other two are more mysterious: Allison, once the golden girl of her small town, now a free woman after serving five years for a heinous murder, and her sister, Brynn, a fragile college student trying to move on from her sister�s mistakes. Each woman observes the progression of Joshua�s life while facing her own demons and making various decisions about motherhood and love. Gudenkauf�s peripheral parental characters suffer from 2-D development: Allison and Brynn�s parents are cold for no real reason, and Charm�s mother is stereotypically trashy. Still, the core story will draw readers of domestic fiction. Those who like the exploration of motherhood from multiple perspectives might also enjoy O�Farrell�s The Hand That First Held Mine (2009). --Courtney Jones

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 337 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (January 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778328791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778328797
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (417 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Sicurella VINE VOICE on January 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
These Things Hidden is all about secrets. As the story progresses, the past is revealed piece by piece. The story falls into place easily while offering shocking things, long hidden, yet never expected.

The book is written in alternating viewpoints between four different women all linked in some way to a little boy named Joshua. Each woman wants to ensure Joshua is safe and taken care if, even if they have different ideas and motives driving them.

The book begins with Allison being released from prison. She committed an unforgivable crime, the nature of which we don't learn until later in the book. Every bit of Allison's past is revealed at the perfect moment. Her story is traumatically heart-wrenching and you can't help but feel for her while at the same time hating her actions.

The story is scarily realistic for the world we live in today. Bad choices ruin lives. Good choices can just as easily take their toll. Love for family and the secrets we keep can lead down a road we aren't prepared to travel. These Things Hidden is a moving, beautifully written, absolutely compelling novel you won't want to miss.
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Format: Paperback
In These Things Hidden, much like she did in The Weight of Silence, Heather Gudenkauf uses the relationships--and intimacy--of a family and a small town to weave a literary tale that feels so real you'd sear it has to at least be 'based on' a true story. Like, Gudenkauf's debut, however, These Things Hidden is completely fictional and completely amazing.

After five years in prison, Allison Glenn is being released. And going home to Linden Falls. Former perfect girl, Allison, now only college aged, isn't going home to her parents, though. Both her parents and her former friends want nothing to do with her anymore.

None of that helps her transition, but the only one Allison is actually concerned with contacting is her sister, Brynn. Brynn, the one who stayed behind while Allison went to jail and went through high school with all the gossip and the town's whispers. And she's the only one, besides Allison, who really knows what happened that night, the night whose events sent Allison to jail.

A secret being kept between two sisters is tearing them apart, but if it gets out it threatens to tear much more apart--including the life of a young child and his adoptive parents.

For almost half of the story I thought that These Things Hidden was going to lack the mystery that The Weight of Silence had that was such a fundamental part of my enjoyment of the story. When things did really begin to develop, however, I was very pleasantly surprised and loved what it added to the tale.

The way that Heather Gudenkauf focuses on familial relationships and then works those families together through their relationships/friendships in the town is really brilliantly done.
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Format: Paperback
This was a crazy ride! At first I didn't know what was going on, what Allison had done that was so terrible. So I flew through the pages dying to know. In those pages I felt like I got to know Allison well enough that I couldn't imagine she had truly done something horrible. I couldn't imagine why everyone would be so hateful toward her. When I found out what her crime had been I just had to know WHY?!
This book alternates characters. We go to know Allison, the center of it all and the one who just got out of prison. We get to know her sister Brynn who is having a hard time dealing with her past, and her life in general. We get to know Charm who takes care of her stepfather as he dies and is going to school to be a nurse. Then we get to know Claire, the mother who adopted beautiful Joshua. We don't know how they all connect but as the story goes on we make connections. At times we assume things or put the puzzle together only to find out that the pieces don't fit.
A little past the middle I thought it was all figured out. I wondered why the author let us know everything already and wondered if it was all going to just take a bit to wrap up. But nope~ we don't know everything. There is still so much more to the story and it is one crazy emotional ride!
Through the first half of the book I was really liking it. I was thinking it was a 4 star book. It was easy to read and hard to put down. The mystery was intriguing and the characters were interesting. But it was just past the middle that I realized that it was an amazing story. It went from being really good to unbelievably good. I couldn't put the book down. I locked myself in the bathroom to avoid interruptions and flew through the book. I couldn't stop reading! The book is 400 pages, but I flew through it like it was 200.
This is an adult book, but I would say it's definitely appropriate for older young adults or young adults used to reading adult books.
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Format: Paperback
PS- It was also such an easy, easy read that I feel it's more appropriate for teens, ages 12-14. Very juvenile tone and prose.

I bought this book for an upcoming book club meeting, and was irked and annoyed the whole way through. It was the quickest book I have read in ages, because the language is very, very simple and unchallenging. I really enjoy the use of rich language in a book, so that was one let down. I felt the story was also lacking essential background information and detail. Every chapter switched perspective of the narrator, which is often fun, but the chapters would also switch from first to third person sporadically. One chapter from the perspective of Allison would start with, "Allison walked into the bookstore that day," and another about her would start with, "I didn't know what to expect when I walked into the bookstore that day." I found this very disorganized feeling and sloppy in style.

I was also left wanting to know SO MUCH MORE about the characters' emotional experiences and thoughts. For a book that was constructed around a very interesting and controversial scenario, much more detail was needed. It felt flat and emotionally lacking. The character of Allison was a painfully underdeveloped given her extremely complex situation- I kept thinking, 'is THIS all she feels???'. It felt false. The character of Claire was disgustingly codependent, inappropriately immeshed and emotionally incestuous with her weakling, grossly over-coddled adopted little boy, but I felt like the only one who noticed her obnoxious obsession with the child? I didn't feel satisfied and was let down by the read after reading such rave reviews.
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