Title: WHAT YOU HIDE
Author: Natalie D. Richards
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Pub Date: 12.04.2018
TW: homelessness, death
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…
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange of an honest review.
A fast paced story about finding love, safety, your own self, and the struggles along the way. With a dash of murder and suspense.
The book follows two teenagers, Mallory, a homeless 16 y/o looking for a way to convince her mother to leave her toxic stepfather, and Spencer, an adopted high school senior trying to see himself out of his adoptive family’s lens. When the two meet each other, they must help each other fight their demons and solve the mysterious notes left in the library.
I picked it up because the murder mystery intrigued me and the book failed to deliver. I won’t describe this book as ‘dark and gritty suspense’ rather ‘warm and wholesome romcom’. Apart from the misleading cover and description, there’s nothing on the pages that can disappoint you. First of all, it’s set in the library. What can you possibly dislike about that?
The plot is engaging, fast paced and the suspense keeps you turning the pages. In fact the suspense was so brilliantly built up, the ending felt a little flat and unsatisfying. But everything was tied up perfectly and the happy ending doesn’t leave you hungover. The book can keep you up all night turning pages but it’s easy to forget once you finish.
The characters were very realistically portrayed. It was truly amazing to see them develop throughout the book and learn to love each other and their own selves. Mallory’s character especially was so raw and strong that you find yourself rooting for her to find her full potential which she does. On the other hand, Spencer’s character arc didn’t turn out to be as strong. He is a black kid adopted in a white family, he knows nothing about his biological family. Considering that, he should have had so much more the rich kid existential crisis. But we don’t really see the book explore all the confusions and crises about identity that a teen in Spencer’s shoes has.
Another character Richards shows with nuance is Mallory’s step-father Charlie. I loved how carefully and realistically his character was portrayed. Richards handled the toxic but non-abusive character in depth with so much sensitivity. It was hard to read about him but at the same time it was unhurtful and relatable from Mallory’s perspective.
The other things I loved about the book was the settings (it’s in a library!), the healthy romance building between Spencer and Mallory and how the two of them are always cute together, respectful towards each other and always stick together no matter what.