Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Review: Tracie Peterson's All Things Hidden

You might have read The Icecutter's Daughter last year from Tracie Peterson, or even Chasing the Sun a couple of years before that as I did. It didn't take long to notice that all the stories follow the same outline, even with a co-writer, Kimberley Woodhouse. It's a very light read with characters that aren't going to treat any lines to offend the readers. I guess what is most odd to me though is that a character can be evil enough to murder someone, but he never utters language that would be more offensive than you would hear in a Baptist church on a Sunday morning? He is a drug addict, and he loves whiskey though, so that makes up for it. Because those who drink must be as equate to having the potential for murdering right?

Summary: Gwyn and her father who is a doctor reside in Alaska. Gywn is currently a nurse there. Her mother and her sister abandon them after they discovered that her father's want to live there wasn't passing, and they would rather return to Chicago to be socialites. She still hasn't been able to rid herself of the abandonment she has felt over this. Now a new obstacle is facing her and her father as a new wave of people are moving to Alaska in order to help colonize it. They will be the only medical staff available there, along with a new man moving to the area, Jeremiah. Jeremiah is harboring a lot of secrets though, and even though Gwyn is falling for him she might not able to overlook his past.

Characters: Gwyn is the lead character, and she isn't a bad character, but also not very interesting. If you're wanting to imagine your daughter or yourself if you relate to Gwyn, then you'll enjoy it a lot more. I don't personally relate to the personality she has, and feel it's a perception of a woman that adheres to such a high standard that it's one that makes women feel they should be the perfect combination of feminine and motherly like Gwyn, but also a a bit sporty in demeanor so you can hang in there with the guys. It reminds me of the years of dating when I felt this was the standard even men held me to, and I wasn't that. Her father is also this very loving father, and the mother and sister are basically like characters out of Cinderella. They are mean, snooty, and hateful, and have no redeeming qualities to them that make us try to understand them any better. Clarence is the bad guy in the novel who has a problem with his addictions, and feels that maybe an addiction to hospital medication will make up for his inability to find any alcohol to drink, even though the two substances do not cause the same reaction. Drinking does not cause a high. Jeremiah is the guy with the secret past that he is worried will be discovered by Gwyn and her father, and again I just think an unrealistic picture is painted of a male personality. I get that guys like girls who can keep up with them or whatever, or don't appear uppity. That exists. Guys also do like appearances though, and I hate to say it, but the majority of men aren't going to overlook physical attributes so naturally. I get that for many people they will like the clean atmosphere, and nostalgic portrayal of the setting, but it all seems so perfect even when things go bad.

Writing: The writing is good as far as sentence structure. The narrative uses a lot of techniques I feel repeat the same thoughts over and over, and the conclusions of the characters' fates are determined a lot of the time by what character's were already assuming about them. For example, Gwyn is cautious about Clarence, and Jeremiah and the main likable characters all dislike Clarence. He may be an annoying guy, but instantly for everyone this roots in suspicion, and from this suspicion the rest of the story is put into play. There are also tons of questions that the characters ask themselves in their head. Whole narrative passages will ask "can she love me for my past?" Am I going to ever practice medicine again?" For whole paragraphs this is asked in different forms, but it never progresses the story or the characters.

Plot: I think the plot develops the characters well. They have anger to let go of whether that was toward fellow people they believed to be friends, ones who harmed someone they loved, or if someone abandon them. The people in the town have obstacles to over come even like racism. Also, Peterson really does do her research, so with the help of Woodhouse, they do bring a novel to the reader that you will be able to learn about certain historical figures and events through. If faith based historical fiction is up your alley then this does offer something educational and a clean story for your reading that stays true to the audience it is writing for.

All Things Hidden has an audience to appeal to, and I'm honestly not that target audience. There is nothing wrong with preferring fiction that is more safe, doesn't want to cause controversy or be provocative, and provide an uplifting story. This story aims for a positive feeling once you get done, and it does that. I just feel that I prefer more realistic characters, and writing that gets more to point instead of staying in the character's head much of it. More interaction brings a togetherness between the characters.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.

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