Pub. Date: May 8, 2018
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Tyndale!)
Summary: New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.
New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.
Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.
Genre: Historical, Christian Fiction
To say Heidi’s 2017 debut blew me away is something of an understatement. If you’ve spent any time following this blog you’re seen me mention Freedom’s Ring once, twice, 50 times. It made it onto my Top Reads of 2017 list and remains to this day, nearly a year later, a book I constantly think about. Naturally when I heard about a new novel I was beside myself – especially when an early copy arrived at my door! Sorry other books (not sorry), but I instantly pushed everything else to the side so I could dive in.
New York, 1776. Redcoats fill the streets (and take up residence in local homes), but Mercy knows good news is just around the corner. Soon she’ll be married to her beloved Nathan Hale and they’ll move further north to start a new life together, start a family. Mercy’s hope for the future keeps her going until the day she learns of Nathan’s arrest and execution. How could it be this man she thought she knew was a spy? As her despair gives way to anger, Mercy herself happens to receive an invitation to join the spy ring…and she sees an opportunity to avenge her fiance’s death.
In 2016, Natalie Abbott is known to her listeners as Skye, one of the hosts of a wildly popular morning show. Skye always knows just what to say to callers, always has the right words, knows the perfect song to play, but away from the microphone, Natalie’s life is a mess. Years ago her youngest child was tragically killed in an accident and it nearly cost her her marriage. Now Natalie has received horrific news: there was a school shooting – and her son was the shooter.
The Hidden Side takes on three voices: Mercy’s, Natalie’s, and Natalie’s daughter Maelynn’s (twin sister of Chris, the shooter), all tied together by a library copy of Mercy’s diary Chris happened to have borrowed. As much as I love multiple narrators and dual eras, I’ve found I typically prefer one over the others. There are, however, those rare books where everything and everyone come together to form one incredibly powerful, seamless story and The Hidden Side is just that book. Mercy’s grief, Natalie’s guilt and confusion over what could have caused Chris to do this – was it something Natalie did? something Natalie didn’t do? – along with trying to protect what’s left of her shattered family, Maelynn’s anger at her brother as well as her own loss (one of the victims was her boyfriend). Each voice was fantastic and raw and I felt every single emotion right along with the characters.
I recently read Kelley Armstrong’s Aftermath (be sure to check back soon for my review), another school shooting novel. Sadly this has become an all too timely topic. While I enjoyed that book, The Hidden Side really put into perspective what the family of the shooter goes through and it was like a punch to the gut every time Natalie attempted to buy groceries. They received the nastiest hatemail, reporters practically set up camp on their lawn, their car was even spray painted with awful things no parents should ever have to see. While reading I kept thinking back to a novel I read in 2016, Angela Pisel’s With Love From the Inside. Though the circumstances are different (in this one a mother is on death row for killing her baby), the ending to both books took my breath away. I won’t give away any spoilers, but don’t go into either novel expecting a miraculous last-minute discovery of a new piece of evidence.
Heidi has done it yet again. The Hidden Side is a hefty novel that somehow packs even more within its pages: loss, intrigue, faith, bullying, rape, Heidi certainly doesn’t shy away from any topic and each one worked together to create a magnificent book. Though it’s definitely not an easy read, it’s a powerful read and one I couldn’t tear myself away from. I fell hard for Heidi’s debut and her newest proves she’s not a one trick pony. The Hidden Side was excellent and heartbreaking and I am so excited to see what she does next.