Here is your second review for today. Maybe we can get three done today. Lets believe it!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Hidden by Helen Frost
Synopsis From The Book
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.
Contemporary – Drama | MG – PW |Physical Abuse, Kidnapping, Character Death | Loss, Forgiveness, Hope, Change
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
First book of the month and I’m going to start is off easy. I chose this book because it should be a quick read. This book is told in poetry if I’m correct. Two main characters each telling their story through poetry.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
So here I am all teary eyed and I read the notes on the poetry in the back and my mind went blank. So I had to go back and reread. That. Has never happened before.
Essentially in Darra’s parts, the lines are written so that when you read down just the pages and see the last word on the longest lines, it tells another story. That is mastercraft of writing right there.
Part 1: Wren Abbott
This follows Wren as she is abducted. A man (West) steals her mother’s car at a gas station after he shoots someone. He drives the car, changes the tags, and gets it to his house all without knowing Wren Abbott was in the back seat. Wren hid out in the car and then later the garage as they repaint the car and then ditch it. She tries to escape but fails because of the dog. Darra, the daughter of West, figures Wren is in the garage and tries to leave her food. She and Stacy (Darra’s mom) are beaten by West. Wren does escape with the help of a skunk.
Part 2: Darra Monson
Darra thinks back on the day. She was going to help Wren escape and had a whole plan only Wren escaped first. Four hours after finding it out, Darra’s family was detained. She knew that her father stole cars and repainted them to sell. She found out that her father’s partner, Stu, was a most wanted criminal. He was the one who was shot (West didn’t shoot, the store clerk had done it). Wrenn had led the police to the house. Her father pleads guilty and it is then just her and her mom. Six years pass. Darra has given up on finding out who helped Wren escape, and her parents get a divorce. She and her mom move to a new town.
Part 3: Wren and Darra
Wren and Darra meet at summer camp. It’s a camp that Wren has been going to for years and has a lot of friends. Darra shows up for the first time for her grandmother. The two avoid each other like the plague. Darra becomes friends with the guys instead and they both start to take classes together. In one of their classes they almost drown each other and after that begin to associate and talk with one another. Then they talk for real.
We already know that Darra’s family has been struggling, but we learn of what happened to Wren after she left. She went to an Amish house and called her parents. She told the detectives nothing, and the detectives found the house by trying to smell skunk. Darra realizes neither of her parents were to blame and Wren realizes that Darra always missed her dad. That her life wasn’t necessarily better because West was taken from them.
Darra is friends with a boy named Jeremy who is Wren’s older brother’s best friend. Darra tells him because Wren won’t. It’s Darra’s secret. Darra does and he admits that Wren’s father got his father a job. That Jeremy’s father had been in prison and he had met Wren’s mom’s cousin, and that was how his father’s life got back on the right track. The three hang out and Dara’s time comes to a close. She knows that her father is coming back and its up to her to decide if she wants him back in her life or not.
The novel ends with Wren going with Darra to meet Stacey. Archie (Darra’s cat that kept Wren safe, warm, and company while in the garage) gives her kisses. Darra introduces Wren to her mother, as her friend.
Secret story told through Darra’s lines:
Part 2: Her father saved up for four years to buy the boat he took his family on every summer. He used to have a job making cars. Darra liked going to the lake because her dad didn’t yell. Her father didn’t know she saw him crying the day he got fired.
Part 3: Tells the story of Darra when she sees Wren on TV for the first time. She thinks that Wren looks like a girl that would never get hit, and that her mother and father want her home. Her mother tells her that her father would be home soon. When her father comes home he looks at the tv, checks, and says nothing. Then her mom comes home and checks. Only Darra knew Wren was in the boat. The cops came at 7am.
What I Liked:
Wren; Had a perfect family (or at least that’s how it seems to the outside world) and she wasn’t exactly kidnapped. It wasn’t intentional but it scarred her all the same. I’m proud that she has taken steps to overcome her trauma, and that she open to forgiveness and understanding. You don’t always have to give forgiveness, and I don’t know if Wren ever will to West, but she has let herself know the other side, and that requires great strength.
Darra; She had such a rough childhood in a different way than Wren. I’m sorry for her, and I hope that she has a good life. I hope that if whatever decision she makes in regards to her father, is good for her. She deserves that much and the world.
Wren and Darra; They’re dynamic was realistic. They came together as two kids could, but they had to overcome so much. I’m happy they became friends.
Other characters; They were all well developed for such a personal and self focused story.
Plot; It was simple. The telling of two girls and their lives after a horrible incident. However the story held power, as they came together.
Story telling Method through poetry; Whether it was the extra story in the Darra poetry, or the way the poetry was, this entire book lends itself to this story. The passages are deeply personal, even by being simple. Poetry flows in a way that keeps the eye moving and following. I think that the poetry style was what made this book work so well and captivate me.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
“The story had a happy ending, / sort of — the tree finds out / that the leaves it lost / become part of the new ones.” – pg 63
“We don’t want a double drowning.” – pg 79
“None of it was our fault.” – pg 140