Book Review: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

by Jenn (eating bender) on June 29, 2012

I have a backlog of book reviews that I’m excited to share with you in the coming week. Since 2012 is nearly half over (what?!), I thought it’d be fun to check in on my list and see where we’re at. The total for the year to date is 18 books! An average of three books per month? I’ll take it.

  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  • Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Re-read Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Re-read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Re-read Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth 
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  • Sister by Rosamund Lupton
  • Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
  • Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
  • The Dark River by John Twelve Hawkes
  • The Golden City by John Twelve Hawkes
  • These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

Today I want to discuss These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf, recently lent to me by Jill.


In Short

This book is a blend of creepy thriller and family saga. It begins with Allison Glenn, a now 21-year-old who committed an awful crime at the age of 16, being released from prison for good behavior and sent to a halfway house. Allison was once the golden girl of Linden Falls who could do no wrong. Now she is a social pariah, a consequence of her crime that has trickled down to her younger sister Brynn, who has had to endure nothing but teasing and whispers behind her back since Allison was convicted. The story unfolds as Allison tries to reconnect with her sister – but Brynn wants nothing to do with her. It is told from the perspectives of both Allison and Brynn, as well as two women by the names of Charm and Claire, who at first seem to come out of nowhere but soon begin to fit into the pieces of the plot puzzle. Much of the book is centered around one little boy – and a secret that could undo them all. Read this book if you enjoy suspense and unforeseen plot twists that can have potentially dire consequences.

The Details

I am always so impressed by authors who can tell a story from multiple perspectives. Not only does it take a lot of creativity and imagination to get into the minds of four different people – and keep them sounding unique throughout the book – but it’s also incredibly difficult to make sure every section fits logically within the context of the story as a whole. Heather Gudenkauf did an amazing job with this task, creating chapters that flowed into one another even though they were coming from different voices. There was the occasional cliffhanger as it moved from Allison to Charm or Charm to Claire, but it was never to the point where it was frustrating and felt like it was done merely for effect. If anything, it kept me wanting to read more until I reached that person again!

The subject matter of the novel was also intriguing. From teen pregnancy to infertility, from Safe Haven laws to adoption, the book and its characters dealt with a lot of serious life events, and Heather Gudenkauf gives them the appropriate level of attention and thought that they deserve. Both Allison and Brynn tell their story from first-person perspective, which allows the reader to get more inside their heads. That said, though Charm and Claire’s stories are told from third-person, their story lines were very emotional and palpable among the pages devoted to them, as well.

But it was the ending of the book that really made me say wow. Obviously I’m not about to give anything away on here, but it was intense, unexpected and powerful. A true page turner.


Thanks for the recommendation, Jill! If you’re intrigued, I encourage you to pick up a copy!

Have you read These Things Hidden or anything else by Heather Gudenkauf?

I’m tempted to check out some of her other books now. One Breath Away just came out on June 26 and looks interesting. It deals with a very serious plot, too. I’m sensing a trend.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jill Felska June 29, 2012 at 11:23 am

I’m SO glad you like the book! I was hooked from the moment I started reading. Just checked out the plot summary and book trailer for the new book she has coming out. Let’s just say I’m already feeling hooked…


2 Jenn (eating bender) June 29, 2012 at 11:30 am

I’m already feeling hooked, too! Love finding new authors. :) Thanks so much again for lending it to me!


3 julie June 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

gahh i just caught myself up with your whole trip from disney!!! it looked AMAZING!!! i love love loveeeeeee epcot and the tower of terror is one of my fav rides of all time! i haven’t been to disney in a few years but i love it there. it’s just such a good place for bonding and family time! looks like you had such a fantastic time :)
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4 Jenn (eating bender) July 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm

It truly was an incredible trip!! I love it there, too. Can’t beat the bonding time and the Tower of Terror ain’t too shabby, either. :) Thanks, Julie!!!


5 Jessica S June 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I love reading your books reviews; I’ve found a few books that I love (Divergent/Insurgent and Outlander) based on your recommendations!

I don’t know if you’re into nonfiction books but I just read a great one – The Woman Who Wasn’t There by Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo Guglielmo. It’s the true story of a woman who pretends to have been in one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. She makes up an elaborate story and is a big part of the 9/11 survivor community. It’s an incredible story and hard to believe it’s true!


6 Jenn (eating bender) July 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Thank you, Jessica! It means a lot to me to hear you say that because I love writing these reviews but never know if they are truly helpful to people.

I am definitely up for nonfiction book recommendations. The Woman Who Wasn’t There sounds incredibly intriguing – I already can’t believe it’s true! I am adding it to my list and truly appreciate the recommendation. :)


7 Robyn June 29, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Great book review. I love your book list. I have read several and will be adding more to my summer reading list. One book that I highly recommend is called, “The Rx Factor” by author J. Thomas Shaw. This is a fiction medical thriller, which is about a failed cancer researcher who meets a female scientist who reignites his passion and interest in medical researcher when she decides to open a low cost clinic in Mexico for terminally ill patients. She plans to offer them an experimental medication. An explosion on the island leads them into a journey of twists and turns as they discover that the United States Government will stop at nothing to block their efforts.


8 Jenn (eating bender) July 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Thank you, Robyn! I appreciate the recommendation on “The Rx Factor.” You gave it such a great summary and set up that I am definitely adding it to my list. I’ve read a few medical thrillers before and find them so interesting. Thanks again!


9 Robyn July 2, 2012 at 1:00 am

Thanks! I know you will enjoy it. It is now one of my favorite books!


10 Melissa @TryingtoHeal July 1, 2012 at 10:27 am

i’m totally picking this up on my Kindle to take with me to Peru. I’ll need lots of reading material while i’m there…long hours of nothing makes books that much more fun. :)
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11 Jenn (eating bender) July 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Yes!! Please do. :) Nothing is more awesome than having plenty of time to read. 😉


12 Julie @Savvy Eats July 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

I love Heather Gudenkauf’s books, and can’t wait to read her new one!
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13 Jenn (eating bender) July 3, 2012 at 9:54 am

Awesome, Julie! So glad to find another fan – we’ll have to compare notes on her newest book!


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