Author: Marthe Jocelyn
Rating: ★★ 1/2
Synopsis: 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.
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.
Huge thank you to Tundra Books and Netgalley for this ARC!
I am torn when it comes to What We Hide. It has an intriguing premise with a lot of mystery surrounding the characters within the story, and each character is connected to another by a small thread. The writing is gorgeous, it keeps you guessing, and yet, I struggled to connect with it.
There are so many perspectives in this novel, and I think that’s what’s problematic about it. I never felt like I understood a lot of the characters or their motives, so a lot of their secrets didn’t feel naturally exposed, and to be honest I ended up with more questions than answers, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it made for a confusing story a lot of the time.
There is also so much intertextuality in this book, which you don’t see in a lot of YA, but when you do it can be a nice break in the story. In What We Hide however, it just become more questions and often it made the text very jarring to read because the transition between letters, scripts and first person perspectives feel so mashed together instead of being placed in such a way that the reader would understand WHY the change in format.
I guess for me, it boils down to taste. I think with the right reader, this story will resonate well, but for me I just felt lost and confused a lot of the time. Even when I got to the end I found myself asking more questions and not feeling satisfied with results presented to me. What We Hide is not a bad book, but it definitely requires a ton of patience on the reader’s part.