Title: The Hidden Side
Author: Heidi Chiavaroli
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: May 8, 2018
About the Book:
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.
This was a story that sucked me in and held me tight until the very last page. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s not abnormal to hear about bomb threats and school shootings. Sadly, people shouting “gun control!” won’t fix anything because it all comes down to a heart issue. Yet how would I react if one of my very own kids ended up being the one behind the gun? How would I feel towards my child that I know I did my best raising, and raised them up in the church to love the LORD? How would I best be able to help a child of mine if they were being bullied and embarrassed to talk about it? I myself was a bullied kid. I’ve never understood wanting to hurt someone else for hurting me, but I know what it’s like to wish I was invisible so that I couldn’t be hurt anymore. At the end of the day we have to all admit that none of us have all the answers. Even Bible-believing, regular church-attending Christians can be hit with the unfathomable. I believe that the author did an excellent job of portraying how the different characters were effected individually by the shooting. I found myself putting myself in the shoes of each of the characters as I read which made it an even more emotional read. I can only imagine how emotional it had to have been for the author in the process.
There is also an alternate story that took place during the Revolutionary War. I enjoyed the story individually, but I didn’t see as strong of a connection between the two stories as much as I would have liked to. I believe as a stand-alone I would have enjoyed it more because I wouldn’t have been focusing so much on “how it fit”. Looking at the broad picture however, I can see the relationship in reference to the title of the book. There are the sides of us that we have no problem letting the world see, and then there are the parts of us that we hope are never revealed.
I can’t say how strongly I recommend this book especially in light of what’s been going on in the world lately. In tragedy today, everyone seems to be looking around for who they can point their finger at who to blame. There is a heightened sense of “you hurt me so I’m going to hurt you more,” that only seems to escalate the violence and blame-shifting. Before God we all fall short. Before God we are all just as guilty. Before God we all need a savior. School shootings are unfortunately not uncommon anymore. The world is hurting. Instead of judging and blaming we need to come alongside the hurting and offer comfort and truth in God’s Word. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”~ Matt 11:28
*I received a complimentary advanced copy for an honest review from NetGalley and the publisher. Opinions expressed in this review are mine only.
Age Appropriateness: Part of me would recommend this purely for mature audiences, while the other part says to broaden the audience a little because of recent history and the issues with bullying. (It’s better to see what bullying can lead to from a book than it is to experience it in real life). The modern story-line is about a school shooting. It is from the mother and twin sister of the shooter’s perspectives. Both timelines include a scene about rape. There is also talk of hangings and war wounds. I strongly suggest having parental discretion with this book because while it faces many tough topics no one wants to talk about, it can be difficult for some readers to handle. For this reason I’m not attaching a specific age recommendation, but encouraging discretion.
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