Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: These Things Hidden

I haven't been keeping up regularly this month with my blog posts mainly due to attempting to query as many literary agents as possible in hopes of publication for my own memoir.  As always some days are better than others when it comes to responses when querying various agents.  Recently I did sit down with a fiction novel entitled These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf.  When I was perusing recent memoir releases on Amazon this novel came up as a suggestion and it did not disappoint.  The story revolves around three families and how their lives become intertwined after one major event.  First you have Allison and Brynne, sisters who live under constant scrutiny from their parents and both sisters are complete opposites.  It's only when Allison decides to get involved with a guy from the wrong side of the tracks that the snowball is set in motion.  She winds up serving five years and then being released to live in a halfway house and try to reconnect with her sister.

Then you have the small town couple Claire and Jonathan who have become foster parents upon not being able to have kids of their own.  When they have to give back a foster child to a mother who proves to the state that she can curtail her demons that they find themselves once again longing for a child.  The child comes in the form of a baby left at the doorstep of the local fire department.  That baby becomes their adopted son when no one else claims him.

Finally you have Charm and Gus who are not father and daughter, but could be if Charm's mother had stayed with Gus and not left him for the next good thing.  Charm decides to remain with Gus who treats her like a daughter and cuts ties with her mother.  Her brother Christopher also lives with them.  Gus has lung cancer and begins to require full-time nursing care which comes in the form of hospice.  Christoper has taken off abruptly after being confronted with his past.  Charm and Gus are left to figure out what to do with the loose ends of Christopher's situation. 

This novel did not disappoint.  I was riveted by the relationship of the two sisters and the unreasonably high expectations their parents have.  The childless couple finally gets their dream child only to once again face losing a child only this time not because he/she goes back to a birth parent.  Finally, Charm learns to stand up to her overbearing, profanity spewing mother and lives her life on her own terms once she loses Gus, the only fatherly figure she has ever known.  She can go forward with her life knowing that her bravery and good decision-making skills meant the difference between a messed up or healthy childhood for one young boy who just landed in her world one day.