What We Hide
By Marthe Jocelyn
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Source: PublisherAmericans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny's chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don't. Brenda won't tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother's memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.
Deftly told from multiple points of view in various narrative styles, including letters and movie screenplays, What We Hide is provocative, honest, often funny, and always intriguing.
Review: From the summary, I expected this book to blow me out of the water with the various styles of writing used and the way it was described as "provocative, often funny, and always intriguing." Sorry to say, this book was absolutely none of those things.
With the Vietnam draft calling Americans to war left and right, Jenny and her brother Tom decide to go to school in England, Jenny to a boarding school and Tom to university. At Illington Hall, Jenny can be whoever she wants, which means she tells a couple of little white lies to look cooler. Jenny's not the only one with secrets, though, and some secrets can hurt much more than others…
Okay, so I didn't like this book. First, the summary claims it's super unique because it uses multiple points of view and modes to tell the story. While reading, though, the multiple points of view became very confusing because 4 or 5 people had chapters to narrate and wouldn't even mention some of the other characters. Especially in the beginning, it was almost impossible to keep all of the characters straight and some of their stories were just boring. Well, most of them were. The movie screenplays didn't make sense and the letters didn't have a context when they started, so they were hard to follow. I wasn't at all engaged in their stories and could really care less how things would end. Things finally picked up in the last chapter, but then it all just ends rather abruptly. Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant reading experience.
With the characters, you think I would have liked at least one of them. Wrong. The characters weren't given enough time to develop and I got lost switching so much between all of them that I didn't really get to connect with anyone. And it seemed like they were all obsessed with sex. Seriously, didn't they ever think about anything else? It would have liked if the story had just focused on Jenny, as it seemed from the first chapter it would, but after the first chapter, we don't visit her again until way later. There was too much going on through focusing on so many people, but a lot of it was still boring and I didn't feel like a lot actually happened.
So, yeah, this book was not for me. The author had so much culture and politics to work with seeing as this was during the Vietnam war, but the only thing she really dealt with was how gays were treated then, and that's it. And that was only with two characters. If they hadn't mentioned the war in the beginning, I wouldn't have known that this book took place in the 70s because there were very little references to that time period. All of the other characters fell flat and there wasn't a whole lot of substance to work with. If you're looking for the next provocative and intriguing book, this is definitely not it.