Hidden by Helen Frost (2011)

Like a small rabbit
       that knows a cat is close by,
       I paid attention. I didn’t
                                                              twitch (p 5).

Eight year old Wren is listening to music and waiting for her mother, who is inside paying for the gas, when she hears a gunshot. Scared, she crawls under a blanket in the back seat of the minivan. That’s when Darra’s father climbs in and steals the car. Unaware of Wren, he hides the car in his garage. Locked and now hiding in a boat inside the garage, Wren learns a little about the angry and abusive man, West, who unknowingly abducted her and his family through over heard arguments. West’s daughter, Darra, leaves a sandwich for Wren but doesn’t give away her presence. On the second night, Wren is able to slip out via the cat’s door.

Six years later, the girls meet at a summer camp, recognizing each other instantly. What follows is an intense four weeks where the girls go from ignoring each other to facing their fears and misunderstandings to friendship.

The story is told in three parts. The first section is told in verse from Wren’s first person point of view and tells of the carjacking. Darra narrates the second part, in a different poetic voice,  telling of the fallout after Wren escapes the garage. The third and longest section splits narrators and covers the four weeks the girls spend together at Camp Oakwood. Not everything is as it seems, the girls soon learn.

This was a quick and engaging read, perfect for crime thriller fans and reluctant readers. I thought the details were a little sparse on the camp and the secondary characters weren’t very developed but that definitely wasn’t the focus of this story. The reader walks away knowing Wren and Darra and feeling much compassion for both.

Read other reviews at: Collecting Children’s Books, Fuse #8 and The Reading Zone.

Library copy | Farrar, Straus and Giroux | May 10, 2011 | 160 pages | ISBN 978-0374382216 | $16.99

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