Hidden by Catherine McKenzie was the most surprising book of the year – it 200% exceeded my expectations!
If you haven’t read this book, I’d highly recommend it. This contemporary novel follows the death of a man and the fallout that ensues. Jeff steps into the street (with his eyes closed, bad decision on his part) and is killed. His wife and son along with his co-workers must come to accept his death and unravel a big secret he left behind.
There is lots of drama in this book – cheating, big life decisions like changing jobs, following dreams and dealing with past mistakes. Claire, Jeff’s wife, used to date Jeff’s brother. When he left for Australia and broke up with Claire, suddenly feelings were developing between the now married couple. Claire and Jeff have a son, Seth, and end up experiencing a miscarriage when they try for a second child. Jeff always seems to compare himself to his brother and has his doubts about Claire’s love. When Claire kisses Tim (her ex/Jeff’s brother) Jeff goes on a bit of a spiral – in secret, of course.
Tish is Jeff’s coworker. She works in HR and ends up helping him out during the firing that occurs just before he dies. The two of them went on a work trip together, and it’s always hinted that there might be something more between them. Once Jeff dies, Claire goes on the hunt to see if this relationship existed.
The big theme of this book seems to be surrounding the concept of not knowing a secret or a bad thing can keep you innocent. Claire would have been devastated to know her dead husband cheated on her. Was it better to keep it in the dark? Would she have liked it better to know he was faithful or that he cheated? This final question is left up to the reader after the final chapter. Along the way, I kept going back and forth on whether I believed anything happened. The book does give the reader a concrete answer on this.
My personal opinions:
1. I don’t like Tish. I’m not sure if Catherine meant for us to hate her, but I definitely did not like her. She goes to the funeral and makes Claire’s life miserable. That woman didn’t need to do this! Why in the world would you go out of your way to hurt a grieving widow?! She also seems rather clueless about her own daughter. There is a side of me that feels bad about her, but MAN I still dislike her. In the end, I believe she’s the type of woman who is incredibly selfish. She did and didn’t do something major plot points for her own well-being. No where does it say she did it for the well being of Claire, Seth, her husband, Jeff or her own daughter.
2. Jeff’s a dumb man. He’s also a jerk. Mainly because he’s self-conscious about his relationship, so he should have gotten some major therapy for that. If you’re so concerned that you’re wife used to date your brother, maybe don’t marry her? After his wife’s miscarriage he didn’t seem that supportive either, but that’s my own personal opinion on how it was written. Also, who walks with their eyes closed into a street?
3. In the end, Claire should have run off into the sunset with Tim. I think she would have been much happier with him, especially after reading all of Jeff’s short comings. Maybe that’s the inner romance reader in me…
I might seem to have many negatives about this book, BUT IT IS STILL SO GOOD. I was hooked on every word and needed to know how the book ended. It was compelling and intriguing. I cannot recommend it enough.
The book does seem to be a “you love it or you don’t” sort of novel with other reviewers, so reader beware! Either way, I enjoyed it! And that is what counts.
Final question: Did Claire ever join her sister in a joint law firm? I NEED TO KNOW. CATHERINE, HIT ME UP GIRL!
Five out of five stars.
I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.
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