What We Hide

What We Hide

5.0 1
by Marthe Jocelyn

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An engrossing novel-in-stories that paints a tapestry of secrets and lies: why we keep them, why we tell them, and what happens next.
Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny's chance to finally


An engrossing novel-in-stories that paints a tapestry of secrets and lies: why we keep them, why we tell them, and what happens next.
Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny's chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie.
In the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don't. Brenda won't tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to keep his mother's memoir a secret. Percy is hush-hush about his famous dad. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.
Deftly told from multiple points of view in various narrative styles, including letters and movie screenplays, What We Hide is provocative, honest, often funny, and always intriguing.
“Poignant and often witty.” Kirkus Reviews
“An evocative representation of the tumultuous ’60s.”Publishers Weekly
“Juicy, fast-paced.” SLJ

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Expanding their horizons isn’t the primary reason that American siblings Tom and Jenny agree to study abroad. Tom is dodging the draft by going to college in England; Jenny will attend a nearby boarding school to be his “pal” and to make his going overseas “more believable.” Once at Illington Hall, Jenny, eager to play the role of “mysterious stranger,” fabricates a story about having a boyfriend in the Army. She succeeds in making an impression on her classmates, but she isn’t the only student telling lies. In this novel, set during the Vietnam era, Jocelyn (Folly) alternately delves into the psyches of Jenny and her newfound friends to unveil their secrets about dysfunctional families, sexual exploits, and acts of selfishness that harm others. Although the intimate details of characters’ lives can be soap operatic at times, Jocelyn provides authentic British flavor and an evocative representation of the tumultuous ’60s, when teens challenged social conventions. Intrigue builds as many figures, willingly or unwillingly, come face-to-face with what they are hiding and must decide whether to drop their deceptive facades. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Valerie Burleigh
In an attempt to make dodging the Vietnam War draft plausible for her brother, Jenny relocates to a boarding school in England. Trying to fit in, she tells one very small lie to the very first girl she befriends. As the lie continues to grow, Jenny has to contend with her decision to have a fake long-distance boyfriend despite her growing attraction for a boy at her school. As Jenny contemplates her new life, Jocelyn introduces us to voices of other characters. There is Robbie, attracted to boys and alone without his family’s support; Brenda, trying to break free from her family’s low expectations for her; Oona, attracted to the one boy that she knows she should not be interested in; Penelope, friendly to their faces but cunning and hateful; Luke, falling for his first boyfriend; Nico, living under the shadow of his mother’s popularity; and Percy, starving for his father’s affection. Told in a variety of formats, including letters and screenplays, the choices each of the characters make have dire consequences, and they are changed in ways they never imagined. Jocelyn does not shy away from issues that teens deal with, and for that reason alone, many teens will connect with this story. She never loses focus of the realism of dealing with life’s problems, and the tone of the book remains serious throughout. Many scenes show the characters dealing with the heavy emotions that teens deal with as they try to navigate through their adolescent years, including family expectations, sexuality, societal rules, and prejudice. What Jocelyn does well is create characters that the reader will identify with and feel empathy for many times over. Although some of the characters get closure, not all do. While multiple points of view and formats are used to tell the story, the flow is not interrupted. Recommend this to mature readers in high school due to sexual content and situations. Reviewer: Valerie Burleigh; Ages 15 to 18.
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
So that her brother Tom will not be drafted into service in the Vietnam War, Jenny heads with him to England. He is enrolled in a university there, while she is to attend a boarding school. Within minutes of meeting a couple of boarding school girls, Jenny accidentally lies that her friend Matt—serving in Vietnam—is her boyfriend. She hopes the drama of a wartime romance will help her stand out, but she ends up fearing that her lie will come out. Little does she know everyone at school has something to hide. Marthe Jocelyn’s latest novel shares the perspectives of several adolescents in the boarding school and its social circle through various styles, including screenplays, letters, and narrative. School librarians should be aware of scenes involving recreational drug use, alcohol, and sexual topics. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green; Ages 14 up.
Kirkus Reviews
A group of teens alternate narration of this irreverent historical drama set at a Quaker boarding school in England. When her older brother, Tom, enrolls at a British university to evade the draft that is conscripting so many young American men—including his best friend, Matt—into service in Vietnam, Jenny winds up making the trip across the Atlantic as well. Somewhat uncomfortable in her own skin, she lies that Matt is her boyfriend, but she's far from the only one who projects an altered image to those around her. Jocelyn employs the points of view of a host of Jenny's peers in formats that include imagined film scripts and letters written to a former student and feature embarrassing secrets, plenty of sexual misadventure, and true-to-life and funny boarding school dynamics. In doing this, she effectively brings readers into the respective corners of her characters—even those who at first glance seem unlikable. There are also those who are intensely sympathetic, including Brenda, a smart and honest working-class girl on scholarship, and Robbie and Luke, who find each other and stick it out despite horrific gay bashing. These are textured, smart characters, and it's likely that readers will find themselves wishing for more from many of them—the only detraction of the slice-of-life style on offer here. Poignant and often witty, this novel treats its audience to a nuanced look at the era. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—As Jenny's brother is off to university in England to avoid the U.S. Vietnam War draft, she spends a semester at an English boarding school. Seizing the chance to reinvent herself, the teen lies about having a boyfriend. This is just one of the many secrets spilling off the pages in this multiple-perspective historical fiction novel, and teens will want to keep turning the pages to see how Jenny's lie plays out. The narrative jumps between characters, revealing everyone's backstory—made-up boyfriends, a mentally ill parent, and a mother famous for documenting her sex life in memoir—and is told through various formats, including letters and movie screenplays. Particularly compelling is the back and forth romance between two young men, set in a time when such a relationship was not just scandalous, but dangerous. The Briticisms will be challenging for an American audience, but this juicy, fast-paced volume will reward their effort. Pair this with James Klise's Art of Secrets (Algonquin, 2014), another book about secrets told from multiple points of view and narrative styles.—Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
HL720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

MARTHE JOCELYN is the author of several award-winning novels, and has also written and illustrated picture books. Her novels for Wendy Lamb Books include Folly, Would You, and How It Happened in Peach Hill. She lives in Stratford, Ontario.

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What We Hide 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What we hide takes the various narrative perspectives and intertwies them beautifully into one great story about growing up, finding love, and taking charge of your own identity. Set in the late 1960s this novel also does great job of setting the scene for all of the events tp have taken place in. Highly recommend!