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What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn
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What We Hide

by Marthe Jocelyn

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Tundra Books via LibraryThing's giveaway.

Ducking the Vietnam War draft, Tom leaves America for a college education in England. Bringing along his sister Jenny, she begins a fresh school year at a Quaker boarding school where she quickly realizes she can be whoever she wants to be. What We Hide gathers the voices of numerous teenagers who, despite their conflicting personalities, social cliques, and attitudes on sexuality, share a single similarity -- they all hold stories that either cannot be told or they have quietly fabricated.
The novel does not lack in attempts -- the attempts themselves, however, fall short. Jocelyn packs in a crowd of voices, some of whom are characteristically memorable, while others far less. Sectioning off the book into chapters, eight characters including Jenny (but not Tom) narrate eight distinct stories during their school year, some of which weave into others. Readers may struggle to find coherence in the early portions of the book as characters flow in and out of narratives, and can grow frustrated by the second half as they continue to lack depth and substantial development. What We Hide also daringly explores multiple narrative styles at the expense of the reader, who is jostled through letters, first person narratives, and even screenplays that only serve to blur voices even further.

​As readers will note, this book quickly veers away from a focus on the two characters with greatest potential, Tom and Jenny, to push forth a sizable cast of characters that remain unpolished till the end. Failing to take advantage of the historical time frame that propels the book's beginning, this novel quickly risks losing its audience's interest, leaving them disappointed in its promises.

I post my book reviews on my book blog! ♡ ( )
  biblio-empire | May 9, 2016 |
I received a free copy from the publisher through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

I heard a piece of writing advice -- and I wish I could remember who said it because I think about it a lot -- that having your protagonist lie about something is a great characterization tactic. Watching someone (and knowing that they are) lying tells you so much about them. Of course, it reveals what they want to keep from you. But what they choose to tell you, the nature of the lie itself, the details they include, the way they tell it... all of that often reveals even more.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn is right up my alley. As the title indicates, this is very much about lying to other people -- about boyfriends or a lack thereof, families, identity. And as soon as I read what it was about, I know I'd love it.

This book didn't disappoint. The characters are compelling, and I love all of the multiple viewpoints. And I also love the setting; maybe I haven't been looking hard enough, but I haven't read many YA books set during the Vietnam war.

So, overall, a very enjoyable read. Marthe Jocelyn is one of my favourite authors, and it's always wonderful to disappear into one of her novels. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Mar 1, 2016 |
I received a copy of Marthe Jocelyn's "What We Hide" compliments of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program and appreciated the opportunity.

This YA novel shares the unique perspectives of a group of teenagers who are attending a boarding school in the UK. Each chapter is written in the voice of one of the characters, shedding light on their hidden "secrets", what they see that others may not. There is a tonne of drama along the way, as is the standard life of most teens. It did have some laughable humour throughout and I did enjoy the authentic UK dialogue used by the author.

This easy read was just so-so for me. I finished it in two sittings, not necessarily because I was so intrigued, more because I truly wanted to get through to the end as fast as possible. I am not sure that I can recommend this one, it was a bit of a bore. ( )
  WLR11 | Feb 15, 2016 |
I received this book from Librarything early reviewers. This book is a YA novel about a group of teens in an English dorm and is told from each of their points of view. While it is interesting and humorous, it also seems a bit shallow. It is still worth the read though, and I would recommend it. ( )
  TracyCampbell | Feb 12, 2016 |
I received this book through the early reviewer program on LibraryThing. I had never read any of Jocelyn's other works, so this was my first taste of her writing style. I enjoyed the multiple narratives and especially liked her cheeky classroom lectures about authenticating the true narrator in a multiple narrator story. The group of characters were believable, and some more likable than others. I think we all know a Penelope, and an Oona, etc. Personally, I identified the most with Jenny, although I do have my Esther moments, heh.

I found the time setting was really unimportant to the story. The Vietnam war could have been any conflict and the attitude of the small-town towards the LGBT community, unfortunately, is still prevalent today in some circles. Jocelyn could have swapped out the Beatles and Procol Harum references for One Direction and Adele then added some cell phones and it could have easily been a novel following a modern group of teenagers.

Some reviewers pointed out the lack of denouement to the ending and there was definitely a lack of closure to the various plot lines. I was okay with it though because the author was just giving us a random glimpse into these characters lives--it would have been too hefty a tome if she gave us the beginning, middle and end to all of their stories. I will criticize that at times it felt like several distinct stories that were strung together.

Final thought: a quick read that touched on some heavy issues. VERY character driven and ideal for someone who prefers to read in short bursts (like riding the bus, etc.) ( )
  LoveOfMuffins4820 | Feb 12, 2016 |
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for Maz and for Elena, friends of my youth
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So here we are, running away to save Tom's life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385738471, Hardcover)

Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny's chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don't. Brenda won't tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother's memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.
   Deftly told from multiple points of view in various narrative styles, including letters and movie screenplays, What We Hide is provocative, honest, often funny, and always intriguing.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:31 -0400)

Told from multiple viewpoints, this is the story of high school junior Jenny of Philadelphia, who spends a semester at a Quaker boarding school in Sheffield, England, near where her brother's avoiding the Vietnam draft, and where everyone carries close-held secrets.… (more)

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