Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray

Rating: 3 stars

Despite the saturation of Amish stories in the Christian fiction market, I have read very few of these types of stories. I love historical fiction, and I am fascinated with the Amish lifestyle, but I suppose the few Amish novels that I have read in the past have been a bit too melodramatic for my taste.

Recently, I was drawn to the cover of Hidden as I was browsing the new titles acquired by my local library.  I was interested in the idea of a modern young woman being accepted by an Amish family as she hides from an abusive boyfriend.

In Hidden, Anna Metzger flees her abusive boyfriend, Rob Peterson, who is running for political office and holds influential power in the community.  Fearing for her safety, Anna arrives at the Amish Brenneman Bed and Breakfast, and seeks a place of refuge with Katie Brenneman, a childhood friend, and her family. Katie's parents welcome her into their home; and although Katie's brother, Henry is initially angered by the possible danger in which she may be placing their family, his heart softens as well.  As time passes, Anna's parents and Rob continue to search for her, but she begins to feel at home with the Brennemans.  Anna knows that she needs to contact her parents to let them know she is safe.  Will Rob find her?  Will  Henry and Anna acknowledge their new feelings for each other?

Because Gray shares the story from multiple characters' perspectives, including Rob's, I continued to turn the pages because of the presence of impending danger.  As a reader, I was worried about Anna's safety; but just as the events reached their climax, they seemed to be resolved too easily.  I felt that there were certain details that were left unattended, and the range of emotions that Anna should have experienced were not as well-developed as they could have been.  Given the abusive relationship from which she fled, she did not seem to have many emotional scars that would hinder her relationship with Henry, besides the fact that they had very different lifestyles.  While the general story line holds promise, the overall execution of the plot falls short.  At 202 pages, it is actually a novella; so perhaps another 50 pages would have better served the story.

Henry's and Anna's story continues in the second book of this series, WantedWanted focuses on Anna's friend Katie.  Despite my disappointment, I am willing to give the rest of the series a chance.  Maybe Anna's story will be further developed.  At the very least, I expect a light read that will serve as a good "winding down" story at bedtime.

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