I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!
I can already tell you right now that this review is going to be a jumble of thoughts. I finished reading Hidden just a few moments ago and I'm not even sure how to explain what is going on in my head right now. It's a blur of emotions really. Hatred. Disgust. Pure and utter sympathy. Understanding. This is one of those books that I can't even classify as a tough read. No, it's more like a necessary read that tears your heart out, gives you tons of new information you never knew you needed to know, then puts you back together into a much more whole person. Does that make any sense at all?
Although the synopsis shows the story focusing around Ahmed, and it does, there are so many more vivid characters that are presented to the reader. Ahmed, or Ben as he is known throughout most of the book, is wrenched out of his "normal" existence and placed into a treatment center for queer teens. His parents have one thought. To get him out of their lives until a "cure" for what he is can be found. When he finally finds the means of escape, he is thrown into an underground world full of people who understand him, even if they don't quite understand themselves. These characters, and their dark pasts, become a sense of introspection for Ben as he navigates his way through his new found "freedom".
Yes, this book is gritty. It's realistic. Reading it was like watching a documentary unfold. I began to believe in the characters between the pages. I rooted for them. I felt for them and wanted to understand them. I wish I could say more, but honestly Hidden is such a complex and masterful piece of work that nothing I say can truly do it justice. To say that this book touched me is an understatement of the deepest kind. I'd say instead that this book shoved my head into the reality that actual teens like Ben go through. How would I have ever known that there are safe houses set up for these teens? Or the atrocities that they are made to suffer at the hands of those that would "cure" them? I feel like my eyes are so opened now to this that it is my duty to place this books in the hands of others and have their eyes opened as well.
I cannot recommend this book enough to you, my dear readers. Be warned, the vocabulary within can be considered offensive if you're not prepared for it. This is definitely a read for the older reader, or at least one to be shared between a teen and their parents. However I can promise you that if you can get past the vocabulary, and see it as just another piece of the truth that these characters really live, you will come away feeling much like I did. I feel like I should go give Tomas Mournian a hug and thank him so much for writing this book and sharing a piece of himself. Truly.