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…
As a total book nerd, a library setting is what drew me to this novel initially. Not only are there strange happenings afoot in the library, this book portrays teens dealing with devastating real-life issues such as emotional abuse, homelessness, and unsafe home environments.
In the first couple of pages, I met Spencer and immediately loved his voice. He possesses a wicked sense of humor, is a bit mischievous, and, as a senior in high school, is trying to figure out his future and where he fits in the world. Mallory’s situation is heartbreaking. With a controlling and emotionally abusive stepfather who’s made Mallory’s mother practically a prisoner in her own home, Mallory chooses homelessness over staying in an unsafe environment. It’s obvious the author performed extensive research into available resources for people in these dangerous situations, and includes a hotline number in the author’s note.
Something I particularly admire is the way the parent-child relationships are portrayed. In Mallory’s case, the roles are nearly reversed. As a level-headed teen with a talent for problem-solving, she senses the danger at home, researches options, and tries to convince her mother to leave. With Spencer, he’s dealing with his own issues in addition to helping Mallory, but eventually realizes he needs his parents’ help, and is even encouraged by a friend to talk to them. When Spencer’s future plans don’t line up with his parents’ expectations, they keep an open mind and listen to his ideas.
What You Hide is billed as a YA romantic thriller, but I’d describe it as more of a YA thriller/contemporary/coming of age story. Maybe there’s a bit of insta-love, but the romance is adorable, and not the primary focus of the story. Add this to your TBR today.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.