Hiding Places by Erin Healy

Book description:

The Harrison lodge is full of hiding places where young Kate can discover all the secrets no one wants her to know.

Eleven-year-old Kate keeps her knowledge to herself—one sister’s stash of marijuana, the other’s petty cash pilfering, her grandfather’s contraband candy bars. She protects her mother and Gran, too, screening out critical comments from the hotel suggestions box. But suddenly the stakes are raised; her grandfather’s best friend is murdered the day after Kate heard the two men arguing.

At the same time, far from the quiet mountain resort, a homeless man sees a robbery gone wrong . . . a gang member seeks revenge for the death of his son . . . and a boy chooses the worst time to wield spray paint on a store window. In a strange and spiraling sequence of events, their disparate worlds collide at Harrison Lodge.

Kate offers shelter to one of them, unaware of the terrible consequences to the family she loves. But people can hide in all kinds of ways, sometimes even in plain sight . . . and some secrets are just waiting to be exposed.

My review:

This book started very slowly for me.  I realized I was on chapter seven and still had no idea what was going on.  I usually don’t read the description on the back of a book prior to beginning it because sometimes they give away so much information that it takes away some of the surprise.  I felt like I was in danger of not being able to finish the book, so I read the back to get an overview of the book.  I was really glad I did because the rest of the book went much more quickly than the first several chapters.

Healy has a gift for crafting fiction with a lot of depth.  Readers have the task of peeling back layer after layer to get to the core of her characters.  I really enjoy the multi-dimensional aspect of her writing, but I struggled with this one.  My problem was that there were a large number of characters introduced in a very short time.  I wasn’t able to form an attachment with any of the characters straightaway, because I really wasn’t sure who the main characters were going to turn out to be.  It was even more complicated sorting out the characters because some of them were referred to by different names, for example, Daniel and Grandy (who was the grandfather and also the son-in-law).  It was probably super challenging to decide how to refer to each character when there was a multi-generational family living under one roof.  Fortunately, I eventually figured it out and got to know all the characters.

Although I had difficulties keeping track of the characters at the beginning, once the plot took off, it didn’t stop.  There were several surprises throughout the book that were exciting to read, especially when I am not a huge fan of suspense books.

The best part of the book for me was the message.  Woven throughout the book is the theme of the importance of family, even if it is manufactured by a group of homeless youth trying to band together to form a “family unit” under a bridge.  I thought the love of the Fox and Coz was heartbreaking, but realistic.  I also thought the concept of family as a dynamic organism was fun to read about.  It is always a good book when you end up sort of rooting for a flawed character.

Healy has a gift for crafting her stories.  They are so detailed and measured that readers can’t help but enjoy them, even if they take a little while to get underway.  If you are a fan of suspense, or stories that take their time revealing themselves, this is one for you.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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