Allison Glenn is about to be released from jail after serving time for committing a horrible crime: killing her own child moments after birth. Now twenty-one, Allison must face the world she’s been protected from for the past five years. Her parents refuse to speak to her. Her sister, Brynn, bears a great deal of the weight of the crime that was committed.
Allison was the golden child: a perfect student, school athlete. Her younger sister, Brynn, was always forced to live in her shadow. While Allison was in prison, gone from their small Iowa town, Brynn has the chance to rise out of the shadows. But the crime her sister was sentenced for committing is unforgiveable & unforgettable and Brynn is forced to relive it every day.
Her parents refusing to welcome her into their home, Allison instead goes into a halfway house for women recently released from prison. This transition is quite difficult; the crime she committed was most heinous and the other women in the halfway house won’t let her forget it. She’s fortunate enough to find a job working at a bookstore owned by Ellen & her young son, Joshua.
While Allison was in jail, Brynn moved from her parents home to live with her grandmother. She’s been taunted by classmates all these years; she’s never been able to forget the part she played that fateful night. With Allison in jail, she was starting to create a new life for herself but now that she’s out, Brynn can’t help but be constantly reminded of the weight she carries.
Told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of both Brynn & Allison, These Things Hidden vascillates between past & present. The reader learns more & more about what happened the night that Allison’s baby ended up in the river. Gudenkauf does an impressive job of revealing just enough detail to keep the reader’s attention going.
Ultimately, the entire story is revealed, along with secrets long buried, to reveal a shocking truth. These Things Hidden is much more than a story about a horrid crime committed by a young girl, it’s about family secrets, mother/child relationships, hope, and love.
Like her previous book, The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden is the perfect book for a book group discussion. As a matter of fact, it was the first book chosen for a book club I host at my local indie, One More Page Books. I’ll post about our discussion later this weekend.