Frost, H. (2001). Hidden. Harrisonburg, VA: RR Donnelley and Sons Company.
After a traumatizing event that shaped two girls’ young lives, they are reunited at summer camp. One is still struggling with the emotional consequences of an accidental kidnapping while the other blames the victim for her father’s imprisonment. The reader is brought full circle through the eyes of the two eight year olds at the time of the incident to the maturing teenagers who become unlikely friends after a transformative summer.
Hidden holds within its pages the feeling of several novels following the same storyline. By using different poetic forms to express each girl’s voice, we are shown every side of the story. We begin with Wren’s scared, concise, and logical viewpoint as a child who has been abducted. Through the use of numbered stanzas, we are given the sense of time passing slowly and the sense that this young child is being forced to think in ways many her age wouldn’t dream of doing. It all appears very logical and focused on her stressful and dangerous situation. We move on to Darra’s voice which is more emotional, has more flow, and is more emotional in response to her stressful situation where she analyzes her feelings in response to every moment. As the girls mature throughout the novel, each voice changes but remains unique. The final, hidden voice, is that of Darra’s inner child hidden at the end of each long line reliving the terrifying and scarring events of her father’s arrest.
The activities the girls experience at summer camp also bring more insight into the girls’ mental states. Through the irony of Wren and Darra being forced to take lifesaving together, we see their true feelings about that fateful night. Each assumed that the other would be grateful for their actions—Darra helping Wren escape from the garage and Wren helping free Darra from an abusive father, but neither has enough understanding of the other’s situation. They each hate and/or fear the other because of their presumed fault that night. They are both drowning emotionally as described on page 79, “…you might think your victim will be grateful to be rescued, but if you’re not careful, the person can panic, get away, and come after you—you can end up needing to be rescued yourself.” This metaphor is continued when the girls realize the true depth of their emotional issues and begin working through them on page 98 when we learn that “the water is always colder down deep than it is at the top.”
So much is hidden within the pages of this novel that, like the girls’ experiences, it is impossible to understand it all at first glance. It parallels and perfectly illustrates the complexity of emotional baggage from such a trying experience so early in life.
From Booklist: “Like Frost’s Printz Honor Book, Keesha’s House, this novel in verse stands out through its deliberate use of form to illuminate emotions and cleverly hide secrets in the text.”
From VOYA: ““Many teen readers will identify with Wren and Darra and how events that happened to us when we were younger help shape the person we become.”
Pair with other novels in verse such as Crank by Ellen Hopkins, Far From You by Lisa Schroeder, or What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones.
Use as part of a lesson on the past shaping what we become.
Use as an introduction to free verse, and have students compose their own works.