Category Archives: historical fiction

[Review] What We Hide – Marthe Jocelyn

Book Title:                   What We Hide (Standalone)  
Author:                          Marthe Jocelyn
Number of pages:  288

Synopsis:

What We Hide - Marthe Jocelyn (Cover)Americans 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.

 (re: Goodreads @ What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:

– Follows 8 POVs, changing tenses, and told in varying narrative styles (i.e. letters, screenplays, prose-fiction)
– Timeframe set during the 1960-70s, themes involve: lies and betrayal, LGBT, social status, sexuality (not crude though), bullying; all relevant to the average teenager
– Ensemble-driven rather than fully developing specific characters; some of which are more/less developed than others
– Individuals have their reasons for what they do in order to remain relevant. By remaining stagnant, the possibility of growth and revelation diminishes, and characters face the same challenges in a constant cycle.

Initial Thoughts:

England? Check.
Boarding school? Check.
I think we both know where my thoughts are going. Not.

This is going to be one perplexing review because I’ve never had to critique something like this before. Maybe it was the various perspectives which threw me off (eight distinct voices in total) or maybe it was the sheer nonlinearity of the plot—or at least how it felt like when reading What We Hide—that makes it difficult to assess. At first, I was going to scrutinize each character…but I’m still not quite sure how I truly feel about this book since I enjoyed what I think it set out to achieve but it wasn’t extremely captivating or game-changing.

Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of What We Hide through NetGalley for an honest review. I extend my thanks to Tundra Books at Random House of Canada Limited for providing me the opportunity to review this book.

Disclaimer: There may be spoilers inherent to this review from this point onward.

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