What You Hide – Natalie D. Richards – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 4 December 2018
Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.
Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.
Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…
What You Hide is one part contemporary, the other part mystery thriller. It is a touching and thought-provoking story of family breakdown and youth homelessness, a coming of age story and a love story rolled into one.
When Mallory’s pregnant mother changes her mind about leaving her controlling and demanding husband (Malloy’s stepfather), Mallory makes the decision to leave by herself. This new plan means that she has nowhere to go. Enrolled in online school, she spends her days at the library and, once her welcome wears out her friend’s home, her nights too. It’s at the library that she meets Spencer. Seemingly living a perfect life, Spencer reveals he is working at the library to serve out his community service sentence and that he is struggling with decisions about the future. But then a body is found in the library and signs show that Mallory isn’t the only one hiding in the library.
I really enjoyed What You Hide. The storyline focuses on the realistic fiction parts of the story, rather than the mystery, but I thought Mallory and Spencer’s stories were important and what brought this book to life. They are both dealing with some heavy issues but they do manage to fit in a little bit of sleuthing about the mysterious events at the library. At one point, I thought the book might take a turn for the paranormal, but the story does stay firmly rooted in reality and the mystery’s reveal only serves to highlight the messages of the story.
I loved that Spencer – from a wealthy family with all opportunities before him – and the struggles he faces were treated with as much care and respect as Mallory’s homelessness. Together they face the problems of growing up and making decisions about their future. What You Hide also raises the, sadly, prevalent problem of youth homelessness. Mallory’s story is compelling, touching yet ultimately hopeful. I was very impressed that Mallory‘s story raises the issue that sometimes unsafe home situations are not black and white or do not reflect the worst-case headlines. Again, her situation and decisions were treated with care and sensitivity in this book, deftly handled by this talent author.
I highly recommend What You Hide to readers of both realistic contemporary fiction and mystery thrillers. With a mix of both, it is sure to appeal to and delight readers of both genres.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery.
Themes: Homelessness, libraries, mystery, family, family breakdown, community service, friendship, coming of age, high school, abuse, mother-daughter relationships, romance, rock climbing.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up. (Publisher recommend 14 and up)
Advisory: Vague sexual references. Infrequent coarse language, sh** (20), as***** (8), bi** (3) pi** (9). References to drug use , abuse and overdose. References to emotional abuse and control.
Published: 4 December 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Paperback, ebook. 384 pages.