These Things Hidden

These Things Hidden

by Heather Gudenkauf


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When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778328797
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 01/25/2011
Edition description: Original
Pages: 337
Sales rank: 234,202
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound. Heather lives in Iowa with her family.

Read an Excerpt


Istand when I see Devin Kineally walking toward me, dressed as usual in her lawyer-gray suit, her high heels clicking against the tiled floor. I take a big breath and pick up my small bag filled with my few possessions.

Devin's here to take me to the court-ordered halfway house back in Linden Falls, where I'll be living for at least the next six months. I have to prove that I can take care of myself, hold down a job, stay out of trouble. After five years, I'm free to leave Cravenville. I look hopefully over Devin's shoulder, searching for my parents even though I know they won't be there. "Hello, Allison," Devin says warmly. "You all set to get out of here?"

"Yes, I'm ready," I answer with more confidence than I feel. I'm going to live in a place I've never been before with people I've never met. I have no money, no job, no friends and my family has disowned me, but I'm ready. I have to be.

Devin reaches for my hand, squeezes it gently and looks me directly in the eyes. "It's going to be okay, you know?" I swallow hard and nod. For the first time, since I was sentenced to ten years in Cravenville, I feel tears burning behind my eyes.

"I'm not saying it will be easy," Devin says, reaching up and wrapping an arm around my shoulders. I tower over her. She is petite, soft-spoken, but tough as nails, one of the many things I love about Devin. She has always said she was going to do her best for me and she has. She made it clear all along that even though my mom and dad pay the bills, I'm her client. She's the only person who seems to be able to put my parents in their place. During our second meeting with Devin (the first being when I was in the hospital), the four of us sat around a table in a small conference room at the county jail. My mother tried to take over. She couldn't accept my arrest, thought it was all some huge mistake, wanted me to go to trial, plead not guilty, fight the charges. Clear the Glenn family name.

"Listen," Devin told my mother in a quiet, cold voice. "The evidence against Allison is overwhelming. If we go to trial, chances are she will be sent to jail for a very long time, maybe even forever."

"It couldn't have happened the way they said it did." My mother's coldness matched Devin's. "We need to make this right. Allison is going to come home, graduate and go to college." Her perfectly made-up face trembled with anger and her hands shook.

My father, who had taken a rare afternoon away from his job as a financial adviser, stood suddenly, knocking over a glass of water. "We hired you to get Allison out of here," he shouted. "Do your job!"

I shrank in my seat and expected Devin to do the same.

But she didn't. She calmly set her hands flat on the table, straightened her back, lifted her chin and spoke. "My job is to examine all the information, look at all the options and help Allison choose the best one."

"There is only one option." My father's thick, long finger shot out, stopping inches from Devin's nose. "Allison needs to come home!"

"Richard," my mother said in that unruffled, irritating way she has.

Devin didn't flinch. "If you don't remove that finger from my face, you might not get it back."

My father slowly lowered his hand, his barrel chest rising and falling rapidly.

"My job," she repeated, looking my father dead in the eye, "is to review the evidence and choose the best defense strategy. The prosecutor is planning to move Allison from juvenile to adult court and charge her with first-degree murder. If we go to trial, she will end up in jail for the rest of her life. Guaranteed."

My father lowered his face into his hands and started crying. My mother looked down into her lap, frowning with embarrassment.

When I stood in front of the judge—a man who looked exactly like my physics teacher—even though Devin prepared me for the hearing, told me what to expect, the only words I heard were ten years. To me that sounded like a lifetime. I would miss my senior year of high school, miss the volleyball, basketball, swimming and soccer seasons. I would lose my scholarship to the University of Iowa, would never be a lawyer. I remember looking over my shoulder at my parents, tears pouring down my face. My sister hadn't come to the hearing.

"Mom, please," I whimpered as the bailiff began to lead me away. She stared straight ahead, no emotion on her face. My father's eyes were closed tightly. He was taking big breaths, struggling for composure. They couldn't even look at me. I would be twenty-seven years old before I was free again. At the time, I wondered if they would miss me or miss the girl they wanted me to be. Because my case initially began in juvenile court, my name couldn't be released to the press. The same day it was waived into adult court, there was massive flash flooding just to the south of Linden Falls. Hundreds of homes and businesses lost. Four dead. Due to my father's connections and a busy news day, my name never hit the papers. Needless to say, my parents were ecstatic that the good Glenn name wasn't completely tarnished.

I follow Devin as she leads me to her car, and for the first time in five years I feel the full weight of a sun that isn't blocked by a barbwire-topped fence. It is the end of August, and the air is heavy and hot. I breathe in deeply and realize jail air doesn't really smell any different than free air. "What do you want to do first?" Devin asks me. I think carefully before I answer. I don't know what to feel about leaving Cravenville. I've missed being able to drive—I'd had my license for less than a year when I was arrested. Finally, I'll have some privacy. I'll be able to go to the bathroom, take a shower, eat without dozens of people looking at me. And even though I have to stay at a halfway house, for all purposes I'll be free.

It's funny. I've been at Cravenville five years and you'd think I'd be clawing at the door, desperate to get out. But it's not quite like that. I've made no friends here, I have no happy memories, but I do have something that I have never, ever had in my life: peace, which is a rare, precious thing.

How I can be at peace for what I've done? I don't know, but I am.

When I was younger, before I was in prison, my mind never stopped racing. It was constantly go, go, go. My grades were perfect. I was a five-sport athlete: volleyball, basketball, track, swimming and soccer. My friends thought I was pretty, I was popular and I never got in any trouble. But under the surface, beneath my skin, it was like my blood was boiling. I couldn't sit still, I could never rest. I'd wake up at six every morning to go for a run or lift weights in the school's weight room, then I'd take a quick shower, eat the granola bar and banana I'd shove into my backpack and go to class all day. After school there'd be practice or a game, then home to eat supper with my parents and Brynn, then three or four hours of homework and studying. Finally, finally, at around midnight, I would try to go to sleep. But nighttime was the worst. I would lie in bed and my mind couldn't slow down. I couldn't stop myself from worrying about what my parents thought of me, what others thought of me, about the next test, the next game, college, my future.

I had this thing I did to help calm myself at night. I'd lie on my back, tuck the covers around me just so and imagine that I was in a small boat. I would conjure a lake so big that I couldn't see the shore and the sky would be an overturned bowl above me, black, moonless and full of winking fairy lights for stars. There would be no wind, but my boat would carry me across the smooth, dark waters. The only sound would be the lazy slap of water against the side of the boat. This calmed me somehow and I could close my eyes and rest. Because I was only sixteen when I got to prison, I was separated from the general population until I turned eighteen.

After surviving the first terrible weeks, I suddenly realized that I didn't needed my boat anymore and I slept just fine.

Devin is looking up at me expectantly, waiting for me to tell her the first thing I want to do now that I'm free. "I want to see my mom and dad and my sister," I tell her, biting back a sob. "I want to go home."

I feel badly for much of what has happened, especially for what my actions have done to my sister. I've tried to apologize, tried to make things right, but it hasn't been enough. Brynn still won't have anything to do with me.

Brynn was fifteen at the time I was arrested and, well, uncomplicated. Or so I thought. Brynn never got mad, ever. It was like she could store her anger in a little box until it got so full it had nowhere to go and it morphed into sadness.

When we were kids, playing with our dolls, I would grab the one with the creamy, unblemished face and the smooth, untangled hair, leaving Brynn with the doll that had a mustache drawn on with a permanent marker, the one with ratty hair that had been cut with dull scissors. Brynn never seemed to mind. I could have swiped the new doll right out of her hands and the expression on her face wouldn't change. She'd just pick up the sad, broken-looking doll and cradle it in her arms like it was her first choice. I used to be able to get Brynn to do anything for me—take out the garbage, vacuum when it was my turn.

Looking back, there were signs, little chinks in Brynn's easygoing personality that were almost impossible to deduce, but when I watched quietly I saw them. And I chose to ignore them.

With her fingers, she would pluck the fine, dark hair from her arms one by one until the skin was red and raw. She would do it absentmindedly, unaware of how odd she looked.

Once her arms were hairless, she started in on her eyebrows. Pulling and plucking. To me she seemed to be trying to shed her own skin. Our mother noticed Brynn's eyebrows getting thinner and thinner and she tried everything to get her to stop. Whenever Brynn's hand moved toward her face, our mother's hand would fly out and slap it away. "Do you want to look strange, Brynn?" she would ask. "Is that what you want? For all the other little girls to laugh at you?"

Brynn stopped pulling out her eyebrows, but she found other ways to punish herself. She gnawed her fingernails to the quick, bit the insides of her cheeks, scratched and picked at sores and scabs until they festered.

We are complete opposites. Yin and yang. Where I am tall and solid, Brynn is smaller and delicate. I'm a big sturdy sunflower, always turning my face to the sun, and Brynn is prairie smoke, wispy and indistinct, head down, nodding with the breeze. Though I never told her, I loved her more than anything or anyone else in the world. I took her for granted, assumed she would always be at my beck and call, assumed that she would always look up to me. But I don't seem to exist to her anymore. I can't blame her, really.

Letter after letter I wrote to Brynn, but she never wrote back to me. That has been the worst thing about prison. Now that I'm free, I can go to Brynn, I can make her see me, make her listen to me. That's all I want. Ten minutes with her, then everything will be all right again.

As we get in the car and drive away from Cravenville, my stomach flips with excitement and fear. I see Devin hesitate. "Maybe we should stop somewhere and get something to eat first, then get you settled in at Gertrude House. After that, you can call your parents," Devin says.

I don't want to go to the halfway house. I'll probably be the one convicted of the most heinous crime there—even a heroin-addicted prostitute arrested for armed robbery and murder would get more compassion than I ever will. It makes much more sense for me to stay with my parents, in the home where I grew up, where I have some good memories. Even though a terrible thing happened there, it's where I should be, at least for now.

But I can see the answer on Devin's face. My parents don't want to see me, don't want anything to do with me, don't want me to come home.


Iget Allison's letters. Sometimes I wish that I could write back to her, go see her, act like a sister to her. But something always stops me. Grandma tells me I should talk to Allison, try to forgive her. But I can't. It's like something broke inside me that night five years ago. There was a time I would have given anything to be a real sister to Allison, to be close with her like we were when we were little. In my eyes, she could do anything. I was so proud of her, not jealous like people thought. I never wanted to be Allison; I just wanted to be myself, which no one, especially my parents, could understand.

Allison was the most amazing person I ever knew. She was smart, athletic, popular and beautiful. Everyone loved her, even though she wasn't all that nice. She was never exactly mean to anyone, but she didn't have to try to get people to like her. They just did. She moved through life so easily and all I could do was stand by and watch.

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These Things Hidden 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 387 reviews.
a_tree-lined_drive More than 1 year ago
This book takes you on a journey through Allison Glenn's secrets and hardships. Along the way there are many twists to the story that leave you guessing and wanting more. Just when you think you have the book figured out; it throws something new at you up until the last page! Each chapter delivers a new secret or piece to the puzzle. This novel is great for people who love psychological thrillers that keep them guessing what will happen next the whole way through. It is a quick easy read that you won't want to put down. Anyone who reads this book will be shocked by the ending. Heather Gudenkauf is a fantastic author who picks at her readers brains. After reading this book I can't wait to read many more of her novels!
theatre_geek More than 1 year ago
I started this book on Thursday, today is Saturday. This book is very weird (plot line wise) and is beautifully written. The love and commitment between these two sisters is breath taking. This is a great book to read on a rainy day or in a book club. You honestly do not know what is going on until the last few chapters. It really is a suspense/mystery book! I definitly will be getting more books by Heather Gudenkauf! Enjoy!
Kyrie Kasten More than 1 year ago
overall i really enjoyed this book. i loved the twist at the end and how the seemingly unrelated characters all came held a piece of the mystery. however, i felt the beggining was a bit hard to get into because the character build seemedto take so long. but after the character build was over, for the most part, i couldnt put it down!
born2shop More than 1 year ago
Though this book isn't a complex thought provoking is very well written and a very easy read. It has some twists and turns....some you can figure out...some you might not. All in all I enjoyed the book enough to purchase another of the author's books. This is the kind of book I enjoy when I just want to relax and not be so challenged with an intense and though provoking book.
FayeT More than 1 year ago
The book was slightly predictable, but the story line was great and beautifully illustrated the way life can sometimes be in those small southern towns where everybody and everbody is related. The author describes things so clearly you feel, see, smell, and even taste everything. You become attached to the characters. Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book! Page Turner!
krazyangel More than 1 year ago
it was a good one but sad in the story n happy parts too. i couldnt put it down finished n two days.
Samantha Nelson More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down and then ith the twist at the end I was shocked. I enjoyed every page. Highly reccommended and well written!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the very first chapters this book was a mystery! I read this book in a few short hours on my commute to and from work, and could not wait to put it down. I was constantly trying to figure out what was going and guessing at the outcome, only to be surprised by the final result! I was in tears as I flipped through this book page by and page. The story is near and dear to me and close to my heart in so many ways.
momoffourRB More than 1 year ago
Kept my interest from the first page to the last. I also have an adopted child- if this would have ever happed to him, I too would have moved. Thank heavens they came up with the Safe Haven Law.
AuthorAshleyDawn More than 1 year ago
Allison is the golden girl. Absolutely perfect in grades, sports and future goals . . . at least she was until one night changed everything. Now, after five years in prison, she is being released and wants to reconnect with her shy, quiet sister Brynn. Brynn was left to endure the stares and whispers of former friends and family following Allison's being sent to prison. Her parents and former friends want nothing to do with Allison, including Brynn who has struggled to forget that night for the past five years. The two sisters share a secret that is terrible. Returning home to Linden Falls will start a chain of events that Allison could have never foreseen and reveals more than the sisters could have ever imagined! Charm is studying to be a nurse and taking care of her dying father. Claire is a store owner who tried for years to have a baby before adopting little Joshua. There are secrets upon secrets and no matter how hard they try to keep them hidden, they will be revealed! Twisted and surprising! This book doesn't disappoint. Reviewed by Ashley Wintters for Suspense Magazine
shelly dunn More than 1 year ago
I was surprised how well everything tied together in the end. I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to my friends. Not one of the best books I have read but by far not the worst. It's worth a read.
jennalunaVerse More than 1 year ago
I liked the way the characters all came together, but it took awhile. I enjoyed the surprise ending and it was definitely geared toward younger readers the way it was written, although the topic was hard core. Otherwise. I read it in 2 days. Good story.
AngelicAngel More than 1 year ago
Wow!!! Gudenkauf did it again. I loved The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden did not disappoint. This book will capture you from beginning to end. It is a real page turner. I did not want to put it down. There are so many twist and turners that you not see the end coming. Fantastic book, a must read!!!
Trisha Gnyp More than 1 year ago
This is now one of my favourite books. Very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read of Heather Gudenkauf, but she writes much like Jodi Picoult who I love! Great read!
irisaurora More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed The Weight of Silence, so I was excited to read this book by the same author. I was not disappointed. The story was interesting and surprising at times and it was an easy read. I read it in a couple of sittings. However, the editing was TERRIBLE. Words were missing (i.e. "Just I thought" instead of "Just as I thought"), tenses were misused. It was EXTREMELY distracting to me. Heather Gudenkauf should absolutely fire her editor. Other than that, loved it, would recommend it to friends, and think it should be made into a movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was really fantastic book to read. It was page turner wanting to know what is going to happen next. I love the way all the characters are connected to each other. Just easy read, just loved it.
irishbookworm21 More than 1 year ago
Allison Glenn was the perfect daughter. She made good grades, played soccer, and had a bright future ahead of her. The future her parents wanted and expected her to have. One night changes all of that. In an instant, Allison finds herself in the back of a police car. Her life left shattered, her future uncertain. Now, five years later, Allison is leaving prison and returning home to start over. While in prison, she has attempted to reach out to her sister Brynn over and over. Brynn has spent the last five years trying to escape that night. With Allison gone, her parents expected her to step into the role of perfect daughter. When it all became too much, Brynn escaped her parents' house and went to live with their grandmother. Brynn wants nothing more than to put the last five years behind her and forget her sister even exists. What follows is a story with unexpected twists and turns, leaving you wondering just how you might go to protect someone else. Heather Gudenhauf's tale is compelling from start to finish. It was very hard to put down, and I finished it fast enough to read it a second time before writing the review. I spent the entire time both wondering how Allison could keep such a secret and how Brynn could let her. What surprised me most is that while reading, I could empathize more with Allison than be angry at her. That was probably the most confusing emotion of all. I wanted to be completely appalled at her actions. Instead, I found myself heartbroken due to the difficult position in which she found herself. The story will draw you in and keep you guessing until the very end. Gudenkauf writes a tale that few would dare. Her voice is unique and captured me from the very beginning. This book obviously stays on my read again list, and I will be looking for her other novel as well.
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
Allison Glen learned just how hard and far the mighty fall when their pedestals crumble, once Linden Falls Ohio's golden girl in the eyes of her town and her family she's sent to prison for a monstrous crime, even with blood on her hands she's released early and quickly learns what it means to be completely erased not only by the town but by her parents as well. Younger sister Brynn has also suffered the consequences and has started over away from the scene of the crime and the painful memories. Brought to town by their father's hospitalization Brynn sees Allison for the first time since she was taken away in the back of a police car. Charm Tullia is about to realize her dream of becoming a nurse although it's become clear to her that her beloved step-father will not be around to see it. Claire Kelby has been fortunate enough to see her dreams come true, she has her bookstore and finally she's a mother thanks to someone's ultimate sacrifice. These women will fit together the puzzle pieces of our startling, incredibly emotional and realistic story. Heather Gudenkauf brings us a sordid tale of lies, secrets, betrayal and death. It's about loss of innocence, of growing up and learning the hard knock lessons of life. The story line could be taken from any headline, but Ms. Gudenkauf goes us one better, she gives us a behind the scenes look at what really happened, she does it in pieces so we're always wondering what we missed and how to piece it together. She brings it to us with at times child like dialogue that points us in the direction of mental illness and at other times she gives us maturity beyond the age. Her characters run the gamut too from childlike to sophisticated, but don't let them fool you they're hiding things and it's up to us to find out what and who. They will also pull at your heartstrings and draw deep emotions from you as well to the point you'll have to reinvent who the villain is several times during the novel. It's not a romance but it's a love story, the love of a sister, the sacrifice for a child, the unconditional parental love and the parental love that comes with a price. Still waters run deep and secrets are revealed to agonizing results in this highly charged novel. If you're looking for a intensely emotional, complicated piece of literary fiction it's all in this read. It fit's in the mystery, women's literature or literary fiction category and it's a superb tale told by an excellent storyteller.
lovesagoodread10 More than 1 year ago
I loved These Things Hidden!! I could not put this book down! Gudenkauf has woven another fantastic novel that will capture the reader from beginning to end!!
Staycee19 More than 1 year ago
I gave this book a 3 Star rating based on the morose tone throughout. It was so overwhelmingly sad that I just could not enjoy the read. i believe it was quite well written. The prose had a flow that kept your interest piqued but I don't believe I will recommend "These Things Hidden" as I came away from it feeling very unsettled.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stuck with this to the end, but couldn't wait to finish it just to be able to move onto something else. Read a good review of it and had high hopes, but this really was just a dumb story. If I could have given it no stars, I would have.
Carlene Scheel More than 1 year ago
weird book but i think liked it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i bought this book for a 2 1/2 hr flight and could not put it. i spent the next day in my room reading it and finishing it. the book pulled me in from the very beginning.