Happy Sunday my friends! Did you know that Just Read Tours has this thing called a blind tour? Yep – you submit your reading likes and they send you a surprise book. Oh my goodness, it was like Christmas day when I got my package and found out I was reading The Hidden Side. I have been eyeing this book forever, and just have been so focused on meeting reading deadlines that I never got around to it. Now I was forced to, which sounds sad, but it’s hard to find time to read books outside of my deadlines. Don’t feel bad for me though. I love what I do! Anyways…..once I started reading this book I could barely get away from it. Life was kind of on the back burner 🙂
New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.
New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.
Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.
Chiavaroli took my breath away with The Hidden Side. The raw emotion she managed to put in between the pages cuts straight to your heart and doesn’t let up. I found myself thinking about this story all day long, even when I was reading, and for days afterwards. The present day story felt so real to me, probably because it’s something that seems to happen frequently in this world. But to get inside the mind of the family who is suffering from this experience the most was absolutely mind blowing.
Here’s the thing. When we see something horrific happen, and a young person is responsible, many people are quick to judge the parents. To say they missed the warning signs, or didn’t raise their child right, or whatever. Let me tell you this – The Hidden Side will absolutely change your mind on that. You get an inside peek, and while yes I understand this is a fictional novel, Chiavaroli has perfectly and beautifully depicted the thoughts and emotions of the family members left behind. They were real. Not forced, not written just to fill the pages of a book, and not thrown together to make it look good. I could see mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers out there reacted and feeling like these characters. And through it all, Chiavaoli has managed to make me second guess my reactions in the past, and has challenged me to really stop and think before I react to situations in the future. I was so glad that she included both Natalie and Maelynn’s POV’s in the present day storyline. It added so much depth to the story, and really enhanced the reading experience for me.
I was just as happy with the story of Mercy. She was such a strong woman, and I found myself admiring many things about her. Mercy was not afraid to take a stand for what she believed, even if she did go about it in a secretive way. But here’s the thing Mercy learned. Even our enemies are just people at the end of the day. There are more to them then just war, or whatever the difference may be. Another important lesson to be learned. We need to stop and thinking about people on the other side. They have feelings, they have strengths and weaknesses. And at the end of the day, they are just fighting for something they truly believe in, whether it is right or wrong. It doesn’t make them any less of a person then we are!
Chiavaroli is one of my favorite time-slip authors. The talent this woman has is absolutely amazing. She writes like a seasoned pro. Her faith themes are woven through so delicately, and yet send such a clear message. At one point in the book, a character was wondering if God left them, or did they leave God. WOW. Such a powerful statement right there that jumped right off the page at me. The answer is simple really – God will never leave us. And yet sometimes we go through trials that feel like He did, simply because we have distanced ourselves from Him. An important lesson for this character, but an even more important lesson for the reader.
This is a story that will not be forgotten by this reader. Oh my goodness, I could keep talking about it for another week, month even. If by some chance you have never read this novel, I highly encourage you to. Yes, there are some difficult topics, but it is so worth the read! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
“In that moment I remembered how it felt to bare myself before God, to give Him all my secrets and trust Him still to love my soul.”
“Mourn the darkness of this world, even of your own heart. But then, stow yourself in Him. And trust that He’ll keep you there.”
“All along I’d been waiting for my circumstances to change. For Him to ease my troubles, take a wet paper towel to the smudged whiteboard of my life. But maybe the thing I needed most wasn’t a big eraser.”
“…..against all odds, I’d been loved. Not because of my own merits, but because of what Christ had already accomplished in my stead.”
Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. She is an ACFW Carol Award winner and a Christy finalist. Both her debut novel, “Freedom’s Ring” and her sophomore novel, “The Hidden Side” are Romantic Times Top Picks. “Freedom’s Ring” was also a BOOKLIST Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.
Connect with Heidi online at her website (heidichiavaroli.com) or on either of these social media platforms:
When was the last time a book took your breath away?