Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hidden by Helen Frost Review

Hidden by Helen Frost

Goodreads Summary-  When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra's father steals a minivan. He doesn't know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too. 

Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth—that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain.

So, through various clicks and recommends and various other complexities on Amazon, I came across this novel. The reviews made it sound so extraordinary, life changing even, that I felt compelled to purchase it, right then and there. Slow down, the earth did not move. I seem to be headed down the same path this evening that I was headed this morning. So Earth shattering, no I don't think so. Maybe my emotions were on mute or subtle today. Anyway, it was a really good book. My first in verse and it wasn't that hard to read at all. Of course it's written for MG readers, but it's also coded with a secret message. Yes, that's why I really bought the book. The Nancy Drew in me was just dying to find the secret message. And it's pretty clever how the author does it. 

The summary pretty much explains the story, just not the details. Not the fact that Wren tried to escape several times. And that Darra knew where she was hiding and left food for her so she wouldn't starve. That Darra had a plan to get Wren out and safely back home so that Darra's father would be safe and so would Wren.

When Darra first hears Wren's name at summer camp, she wonders if it's her. How many girls their age could be  named Wren? But then, Wren hears Darra's mother call her name and she recognizes their voices.  Wren panics, remembering that time six years ago and  it comes crashing back on her. The girls spend an uneasy few days tap dancing around each other. Wren has no more wish to expose Darra than Darra wants to reveal herself to anyone. But then in a game the Life Saving Instructor invents called Drown Last, Darra and Wren are pitted against each other and something dramatic happens that splits the silence. And the healing begins.

The story is told in both girls' points of view but also in Darra's point of view at the end of each long line of verse, going down the right side is the story of what was happening while Wren was hiding in Darra's garage. You take the last word at the end of each of the long sentences to make a sentence. And no, I didn't figure it out on my own. There are instructions in the back of the book.

So despite the fact that this book did not move the Earth or change my life significantly, it was a very satisfying read and a testament to the power of forgiveness and friendship. That was transforming for the girls and to see positive relationships between girls rather than jealousy and just  plain meanness, it was good. 

This is for a younger MG reader maybe 4th or 5th grade. It does have one scary part for that age, someone is shot with a gun, off the page, and dies. Other than that there shouldn't be anything too scary other than the fact that Wren was kidnapped accidentally when Darra's dad stole the car.



  1. This probably isn't the book for me since I'm not an MG reader, but I love the fact that there's a coded message in the book! I think that is a huge selling point, and younger readers would gobble that right up:) I'm glad you enjoyed it overall Heather, even if the earth didn't move for you:)

  2. The girls pov and the testiment to friendship sounds great to me. Sometimes it is the simple things that make a satisfying read.

  3. Well at least your impulse purchase didn't completely disappoint. The secret message part sounds really fun. I like also the themes of friendship and forgiveness those are both great messages to send to younger readers. This is my first encounter with this one and it is intriguing. I will keep it mind for when my daughter is a bit older.

  4. Sometimes that is just what you need. Something entertaining. :) This does sound like a good one for the grade school/MG crowd. It also sounds like an interesting take on storytelling. Great review!

  5. Wow I would have never guessed this was a younger read. Even though it didn't quite change your life, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think any book that manages to stress positive relationships between girls without any petty BS like jealousy or backstabbing is worthwhile. Great review, thanks for your thoughts!

  6. This actually sounds fantastic. I love novels in verse and I think I'm going to see if my library has this one!


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