Book Report: What We Hide

what we hide

What’s The Buzz?: Some people just seem to spring up out of nowhere as authors – Marthe Jocelyn however, has a rather long and diverse career as a children’s book author and illustrator. Her titles range from preschool-aged picture books all the way up to preteen and teen novels, including her latest offering, What We Hide. Not only is her bibliography rather varied, Jocelyn also deserves a special shout out for being a Canadian.

What’s The Plot?: Set in the 1970s during the Vietnam War, What We Hide revolves around a slightly rundown private school in Yorkshire, England. The reader is taken there at first through the eyes of Jenny, an American girl that’s sent to England for ‘a semester abroad’ to accompany her brother Tom, who is dodging the draft by attending Sheffield University. The story from there is told from around 10 different people’s perspectives, all of them teenagers that either attend the school or live in the town surrounding the school. The effect is a bit of a mosaic, where some characters’ storylines are furthered by reading about them in other characters’ chapters – similar to Grace Metalious’ classic novel Peyton Place. From a gay teenage boy trying to hide his preferences from his bigoted older brother to a girl with an ‘easy’ reputation that discovers no family is perfect to the son of a famous movie director that has yet to truly meet his father, the story explores many different aspects of teenagedom, all against the backdrop of a notoriously tumultuous time in history.

So Is This A YA Book?: Technically speaking, yes. Young Adult fiction generally centres around the idea that the protagonists are teenagers, as all of them are in What We Hide. That being said, the 1970s setting really takes this book out of being ‘strictly for teens’. Many people that came of age in the 70s will get a kick out of this blast from the past – complete with chain smoking, peasant blouses and The Beatles being the wedding playlist music of choice. That being said, younger readers shouldn’t be alienated either. The themes and stories explored here are just as relevant today than they were decades ago.

Why England?: A nifty feature of What We Hide that sets it apart from the U.S.-dominated YA fiction out there is the fact it’s set in England – yet America and Canada both play supporting roles in the plot. The American girl Jenny’s ‘otherness’ (and her enlisted supposed boyfriend) stand in stark contrast to the dispositions and phonetic accents of the other characters. Canada is referenced frequently in relation to draft dodging and a former transfer student’s return to Toronto. Yet England is really the star here, infusing itself into the lingo, the very British traditions like tea (as well as the extracurricular activities the students get up to), and the overall post-hippie vibe of the story. Coupled with the unique time period setting, this is quite unlike your average YA book.

Who Should Read This Book?: Incredibly, quite a wide range of people will probably enjoy What We Hide. From fans of Peyton Place to baby boomers that want to delve back into this interesting era to teens looking for a change of pace from the overwrought realm of dystopian fiction to a fun back-to-school pick if you hang onto it till the fall – you’ve got lots of choices for who to gift this to. It’s available in-stores as of right now for $21.99 and makes a great present for anyone looking for a refreshingly different book.

Finally, you’ll be thrilled to bits to hear I’ve got a copy of What We Hide to give away to a lucky reader. Interested in winning? Here’s how to enter:

1) Tell me in the comments below by April 22nd – why would you like to dive into this unique novel?

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around April 23rd, 2014 to select the winners, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entries: I’m offering up three bonus entry opportunities.The first is to follow @RandomHouseCA and / or @TundraBooks on Twitter, and tag each one + me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet that links back to this post. Note that you must submit each Tweet separately (i.e. don’t tag them both in a single Tweet).

Your third option is to add What We Hide to your Goodreads to-read list, and link back to that list (on the same page as wherever the book is) to earn another entry.

***IMPORTANT*** When taking advantage of the bonus entries, please do so by leaving your base entry + each of your bonus entries in separate comments. So for example, one comment on why you want to read What We Hide, one for a link to each of your Tweets, and one link to your Goodreads to-read list).


34 Responses to “Book Report: What We Hide”
  1. Joan G says:

    I’m an avid reader and love a good mystery.

  2. mousecat says:

    I’m putting this book on my to-read list! I love YA books and its sounds a little different so I’m in!

  3. Susan T. says:

    I have been reading tons of dystopian novels and heavier fiction in general so I would love to pick up something totally different like this!

  4. Susan T. says:

    I follow Random House on twitter. My tweet:

  5. Susan T. says:

    I follow Tundra books on twitter. My tweet:

  6. Susan says:

    I love reading all kinds of literature and would love to read this one!

  7. Evan says:

    I would like to give the book a read as the plot sounds intriguing. Thank you.

  8. Audrey Skinner says:

    The storyline is appealing and I would like to read it.

  9. Bonnie says:

    I would like to read this book because it sounds really unique, I enjoy YA, and I would like to learn more about the Vietnam War.

  10. Bonnie says:

    I’ve posted a tweet with @ mention to @Cdngiftguide.

  11. Bonnie says:

    I posted a link to the contest with a mention to @randomhouseca.

  12. Bonnie says:

    I posted a link to the contest with mention @tundrabooks.

  13. Pam says:

    Looks like an interesting book

  14. cookie3 says:

    The story line sounds very interesting, plus I read anything I can get my hands on.

  15. Cairine says:

    This sounds like an intriging yarn.

  16. CLC says:

    I love reading books set in England. It takes me back and I can picture things so vividly.

  17. Anne Derkat says:

    I would read ir and then pass it on to my granddaughters. I love stuff about England.

  18. intensev5 says:

    I am entering for my daughter but I would also read it because it sounds like a good read.

  19. lucy kabatoff says:

    would love to win this book sounds very interesting

  20. photomum says:

    This sounds like a book with a very unusual storyline,something that bhasn’t been done before–I would love to read this.

  21. lyn212 says:

    I would love to read this book – it sounds like there are any different aspects of the book which will keep it very interesting.

  22. I love reading and it sounds very interesting

  23. linnett says:

    the story line is enough to draw me into it. thanks for the chance

  24. Jessica Lord says:

    I’m in need of a new book and this one looks great.

  25. I would love to read this book! I’m a big fan of YA fiction! This one sounds really unique! Thanks for the chance!

  26. Ali says:

    I like the time period in which this is set.

  27. Dee Gee says:

    Sounds intriguing, always looking for some new fiction to read. Thanks!

  28. diane says:

    This book sounds really interesting.

  29. Angela Mitchell says:

    I really appreciate books set in the 1970’s. I love that this is from a Canadian author as well.

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  1. […] of schooling, snap up a bonus entry into my What We Hide giveaway by telling me in the comments below – would you affix this artwork to your walls? Feel free […]

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