Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son as well as contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members, and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother, who was her ex-boyfriend. Tish volunteers to attend the funeral on her company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life.

Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish, and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, the repercussions of our personal choices, and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

“One minute doesn’t erase a thousand.”

From the first chapter of Hidden, I was hooked. Catherine McKenzie’s writing grabbed me, held on tight and made me wonder all along, ‘did it really happen’? Did Tish and Jeff betray Brian and Claire? Infidelity isn’t an easy thing to read about, but this story was so well written, emotional and thought provoking. 

Naturally, Claire is devastated when she unexpectedly loses her husband Jeff.  With the help of her family she tries to pull things together the best she can for their son. But, it’s rough.  Especially, as pieces of Jeff’s life start to unravel and suspicion starts niggling away and consuming her thoughts.

“ I don’t need my heart anymore / you can have it . . . “

Claire isn’t the only woman broken over the loss of Jeff. Tish and Jeff were work colleagues, living in different states but communicating through email and video conferences. What started off as just a work training, turned into a flirty and emotional connection. One that made them both question their current relationships. Tish has a husband of her own and a daughter, but there's something about her that feels unsettled.

“This is going to sound strange, but… do you ever wish you could do your life over again?”

As more of the story unfolds, it comes out that Claire and Jeff didn’t have the perfect marriage. There were past mistakes and hurt, like any relationship. Claire starts to question Jeff and make assumptions. It takes Tim, the one person that’s always been a wedge between her and Jeff, to see what’s been right in front of her all along. They both made mistakes, but in the end chose each other. Isn’t that all that should matter?

I love, love, love how this story unfolded.  With pieces of the past and the present being thrown at us from the alternating POVs of Claire (the wife), Jeff (the husband) and Tish (the other woman). I’m not exaggerating when I say I couldn’t put this book down. It's the first book I’ve read from this author and her writing was engaging and flowed so perfectly.  I don’t want to give anything away but the epilogue… It was epic. Changed everything.

4.5/5 Fangs

*Complimentary copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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