New York, 2016Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.New York, 1776Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.30(d)|
Read an Excerpt
SETAUKET, NEW YORK SEPTEMBER 22, 2016
When I was fourteen, I hid a pack of Virginia Slims in the top drawer of my dresser. I never smoked them, just kept them there for over a year. I remember glimpsing the package beneath old training bras and lacy underwear I bought at Victoria's Secret with my friends, feeling a sense of accomplishment over their very presence in my room.
Something about seeing them — the thin white package with the brown strip, the gold seal still unbroken — made me feel powerful. As if I had some autonomy outside my parents' overbearing control.
Now, twenty-six years later and about to breach the slender link of trust that remained between me and my sixteen-year-old son, I lifted my hand to where the partially opened drawer of Chris's desk called to me, beckoning. The laminated wood finish peeled around the edges, revealing smooth, pale plywood beneath. It would be so easy in this empty house. Ten seconds was all it would take.
I could pick a song to play for one of my callers at the radio station in ten seconds. I could fold one of the undershirts my husband, Mike, wore beneath his police uniform. I could shed a tear. Order a coffee. Give a hug. Check a Facebook message. Speak words I could never snatch back.
Gathering a breath, I pulled at the knob of the top drawer. It came open several inches before jamming against an object.
Now committed, I wiggled my finger inside the drawer to free it of the problem — a slim book, from the feel of it. I caught a glimpse of my concentrated face in the reflection of Chris's blank computer screen. Shame tunneled through me as I faced my act of invasion, yet continued at my task.
The book slipped down, allowing the drawer to glide open. I stared at the unexpected item, its hard cover muted with soft shades of blue, green, and brown.
The Velveteen Rabbit.
I slid the children's book from the drawer, the tattered paper jacket catching on the sides. In a whisper of time I was back in this very room — the walls a dusky blue with brightly colored truck-and-airplane decals sticking to them. A Furby stuffed animal in Chris's lap, one tiny hand clutching an oversize ear. Beside him on the carpet, his twin, Maelynn, holding The Velveteen Rabbit across her legs. She read loudly to Chris, who'd taken out his hearing aid in preparation for bed. He peered over her arm at the picture of a bunny on top of a pile of books, thick glasses sliding off the bridge of Chris's small nose.
There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.
I sniffed, shoved the book back into the drawer, and closed it. I hadn't realized the story was in the house anymore. Sweet that Chris would keep it as a reminder of his childhood. No doubt I worried over my son for nothing. He was busy with school and work, maybe tired from adjusting to his junior year. So he didn't talk to me like he used to. What teenage boy confided in his mother?
For a long time he lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery floor, and no one thought very much about him.
He was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him.
I pulled the shade open, allowing bright sunlight to stream into the room onto the postered walls. A collection of vintage prints, boasting Winchesters and Remingtons, amid paintings of wild birds and hunting dogs. I recognized one at the bottom: a picture of a severed snake, symbolizing the colonies at the time of the Revolution. Below the snake were bold letters: JOIN, or DIE.
A chill chased my gaze from the walls and back to the window where a flock of geese sounded their calls over the house. Across Brewster Court, the Nielson preschoolers ran through a sprinkler, enjoying the unseasonably warm afternoon.
I turned from the squealing children to draw the covers up over my son's unmade bed, careful to smooth out the wrinkles. The scent of old roasted coffee from his part-time job at Dunkin' Donuts infused the room.
"What is Real?" asked the Rabbit one day.
"When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real."
A pile of books beside Chris's bed caught my eye. He always kept library books there. The top one read Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America's First Spy. I flipped through the remaining titles, similar to the first. Except for one — an older book the same Aegean blue as Chris's eyes, save for a maroon strip across the binding. The Journal Entries of Mercy Howard. I turned to the first page, a musty scent rising to meet me.
September 22, 1836
Every year, on this date, when I find the leaves hinting at near death, I remember. It's been sixty years since my Nathan died — strung up from the gallows at the Royal Artillery Park in New York City. All remember his name. And yet I am the one who loved him. His death spun into motion the most tumultuous time in my life, of which I now take up my pen to write.
I can no longer bear to take this secret to my grave. I wish to unburden my conscience and make my story known.
A horn honked outside the window and I jumped, closing the book. A Chevy Impala backed out of the Nielsons' driveway. The driver beeped and waved good-bye to the glistening children on the lawn.
I replaced the books how I'd found them. They must have been for a school report. Chris had always been into stories of espionage, dreaming of working for the CIA. I hadn't heard him talk about that for some time — or any other dreams for that matter. I vowed to ask him about the report later, maybe strike up more than a two-sentence conversation.
I exhaled a shaky breath, looked to the desk I'd just invaded — a desk with nothing more to hide than childhood memories. What had I been looking for anyway? Drugs? Porn? A pack of cigarettes? I should be ashamed of myself.
Talk about spying.
I stared at the berber carpet, where the picture of peace still clung to my mind's eye.
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.
"When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
I took one more look around Chris's tidy room, now awash in bright sunlight. All was well. Good, even. Mike was right. I worried over nothing.
I opened the door, my world once again right-side up. My baby — my only son — was fine. My family was fine. Everything was fine.
I left the room, the memory of my daughter's five-year-old voice echoing through its walls.
"Once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad.
He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.
* * *
I plunged my hands into the soapy dishwater and sought the steel-wool pad I knew to be at the bottom. My fingers brushed its coarse edges, and I grabbed it from beneath the pan I'd fried chicken in forty-five minutes earlier. Loose brown bits came undone with my vigorous scrubbing. They swirled around my skin with each stroke.
"Think I should call Becky's?"
Mike came beside me, glass in hand. "I'm sure she lost track of time. Let's give her five more minutes." He took a last swig of water from his glass before placing it on the top rack of the dishwasher. "Um, honey ... I think it's dead."
I gave the pan one last swipe for good measure before loading it in the washer and wiping my hands on a dishcloth. "Tell me I worry too much about them."
"You worry too much."
I exhaled. "Just this afternoon I was agonizing over Chris ... you know, how quiet he's been. Did he even speak an entire sentence at supper?"
Mike raised his eyebrows at me.
"I know, I know. Leave him alone. He's growing up, high school can be turmoil, yada, yada, yada." I closed my eyes as my husband drew me into an embrace. His arm muscles tightened around my shoulders, and in them I felt safe, secure. The rough polyester of his uniform pants brushed against my bare knees, and I laid my head on his chest, my cheek against the white cotton of his undershirt. He smelled of spiced deodorant. I buried my nose deeper. "I never even asked about your day. How'd the lockdown go?"
I lifted my head. "Find anything?"
"Some coke, more pot. No one the kids hang around with." He ran his fingers along my side, and my body stirred. It had been too long. With my early morning shifts at the radio station, I often fell into bed before Mike had even taken a shower.
He pressed his chin against the top of my head. More than twenty years ago I fell in love with my husband in a crowded SAT prep class, and never looked back. We didn't get to twenty years the easy way, either, if there was one. We fought for each year, even separating for a few months after our youngest son, Ryan, died, when the twins were ten. I scrunched my eyes shut against Mike's shirt, fought to push aside the memories surrounding Ryan's accident. In many ways, they were still too painful — his death, the twins' harsh awakening to the reality of an unfair world. Mike's abandonment.
I stuffed down the hurt of that time and instead brought forth the night Mike had finally come home after three months. I might have pushed my husband away forever if not for my best friend, Danielle, urging me to talk to him, hear him out. Sitting on our front porch in worn rockers with chipped paint, the subtle scent of drying rain on pavement and a smudged rainbow in the distant sky, Mike spoke for the first time of his hurt over our son's death. He begged forgiveness for his absence, told me he'd met a God who offered second chances on his trip north to the mountains, asked me if I would take him back so we could reassemble the shattered pieces of our family, our marriage.
The hope living inside my broken husband had been undeniable, and I clung to it, sought the second chances he spoke of. And we'd lived. Thrived, even, despite the odds.
Yes, we'd been through the fire.
Now, we could certainly handle a couple of cranky teens.
"How about you? How's my Skye?"
I pinched his side for the slight tease. My radio name not only protected my family's privacy, it left me free to be who I had to be on the air. Skye admitted her vulnerabilities, but she wasn't afraid of them. Skye looked to God always, for hope in the midst of darkness. She may doubt, she may falter, but she always had her priorities straight. And she always, always had the right words. If only Skye would translate just a little more to Natalie.
Mike squeezed me once more, then ended our embrace. "You know, for all the worrying you do about Chris being so withdrawn, look who's upstairs in his room studying, and look who missed dinner again, for the second time this week."
"You're right." I grabbed up my phone and tapped out a Where are you? to Maelynn, hitting the send arrow. "Maybe you and Chris could spend some time together this weekend?"
Mike shrugged. "If he wants to."
"Nat, I will. We will. I'll take him to the range. Bow season's right around the corner, he'll be perking up in no time."
I kissed his whiskered cheek. "Thank you."
"You know, we can't always fix their problems. They're going to make mistakes, and hopefully learn from them." He shook his head. "Sixteen. By now, I hope we taught them all the important stuff."
"I know," I whispered. He thought I suffocated the twins, that I was overbearing, overprotective, obsessively concerned for their well-being. Well, maybe I was. But there were no do-overs at this mother thing, and I'd already failed once. These kids — my Maelynn, my Chris — they were my life. Sure, I had Mike. I had the station. I had my friends and my church. But all that would be there in two years when the twins graduated and went off to college. The crushing press of time bore down on us — I wanted to safeguard every moment.
The door opened. Maelynn stood at its threshold, a textbook stuck beneath an arm. Her hair was pulled into an uncharacteristically messy ponytail with a tangled lump at the elastic. The edges of her eyes puffed swollen and red.
"Maelynn, what happened?" I went to my daughter, put my hand to her cheek. She pulled away.
"Where have you been?" Mike's voice was hard.
I shot him a look. Easy there, Officer Mike.
He inhaled deeply, struggling to calm himself, to rein in the urge to let a firm hand fall when our daughter was clearly hurting.
I closed my eyes, breathed around a halfhearted prayer before speaking to my daughter. "Are you okay?"
Her eyes shone, and her bottom lip stuck out. She shook her head. An unpleasant scent wafted from her clothes. A cross between burning leaves and skunk cabbage ... No. I thought my daughter was bright enough to keep her head above all that.
"What happened?" Mike kept his distance.
"Why don't you ask your freak-of-nature son?" In a sudden movement, she pushed off the wall and started up the stairs, her chemistry textbook still clutched against her chest.
"Maelynn! Maelynn, get back down here." Mike's command was ignored.
"Let her go." I spoke soft enough for only Mike to hear.
"Let her go? Did you smell that? I'm not doing drug busts at the school only to have my own daughter come home smelling like weed."
I looked up the stairs, waiting for the sound of her door to shut, but all I heard were muffled voices. "She's upset. Let me talk to her."
Mike's fists clenched.
What did a good parent do in this situation? I imagined Skye behind the microphone of the radio station, headphones on, listening to a caller emptying her heart out to me and my cohost, Tom, regarding her drug-addicted daughter. It didn't happen often, but when it did, I made it my goal to offer hope. A hope greater than drugs, a hope greater than high school popularity, a hope greater than this world or ourselves. How did I always seem to find the right words on the air but come up short with my own family? How could I persuade my listeners that all would be okay in the end, but fail again and again to grasp it in my own life? And if I, the dispenser of advice, found these words hollow when I truly needed them, how much good could they have done for my listeners in their own times of trial?
I trudged up the stairs, the rubber soles of my slippers quiet on the hardwood. I strained to hear Maelynn's strident voice above. As I reached the landing, I crept close to the wall, a snoop for the second time in one day in my own house. It sounded as if she was in Chris's room.
"I want you to leave me alone. Seriously. Stay out of my life, okay?"
I took three steps closer.
Then, the low voice of my son. He'd hit puberty late, and I still couldn't get used to the manly voice — one I didn't hear enough. "He's no good for you."
"Who are you to tell me who's good for me? You don't have a say; do you get that, Chris?"
"I'm glad you broke up with him."
News flash. Wow, big news flash. And I couldn't say I wasn't happy. Jake Richbow was an all-American boy — good looks, starting wide receiver of the football team, bright, polite, attended church with his parents often enough ... and yet something about him made my skin crawl, just below the surface. Like I couldn't trust him. Like Jake Richbow didn't have one authentic bone in his body.
A long sigh from Maelynn. "Look, I love you, okay? I wish you were more ... I don't know ... normal, but I love you. But you have to get one thing. We shared a womb. That's it, Chris. We don't share this life. I might have stuck up for you today, but don't count on me to do it again."
Maelynn stormed out of Chris's room and toward her own, farther down the hall. I leaned my head against the wall. Things were so much easier when they were five, and my biggest problem was who got to play with the newest Play-Doh container.
I went to Maelynn's room and knocked lightly on the door before poking my head in. She lay on her lavender bedspread, earbuds in place. I could hear the thrum of the bass from where I stood. She tugged one bud out.
"We need to talk."
I gestured to my ears, and she shut off the music and lay the buds by her side.
"I wasn't the one smoking pot."
Maelynn shook her head. "One of the other girls. I didn't smoke the joint, Mom, I swear. And I'm sorry I was late again, but I had the worst day ever."
"Your father and I expect you home in time for supper. Even on bad days."
"You don't understand," she whispered.
"Maelynn ..." She was right. I didn't understand. But I wanted to. I wanted to help her. How could I be both guardian and confidante? My parents sure hadn't done a good job, and it had pushed me away. Right now, I wondered if I did any better.
Excerpted from "The Hidden Side"
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Chiavaroli.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
The Hidden Side is a beautiful tale that captures the timeless struggles of the human heart. Exploring both contemporary and historical relationships, Chiavaroli has woven two worlds together seamlessly. With lyrical depth, she has delivered a story that is particularly relatable to parents who are struggling to guide teenagers through today’s tumultuous climate.
Heidi Chiavaroli has written another poignant novel that slips between a heart-wrenching present-day story and a tragic one set during the Revolutionary War. The Hidden Side explores the raw humanness of characters who are confronted with unimaginable sorrow and the secrets they keep to protect themselves and the people they love.
Heidi Chiavaroli excels at bringing the raw emotions of characters to life, in drawing real-life conflict onto the page. The Hidden Side is a brilliant portrayal of our country’s worst modern-day nightmare and the struggles of its traumatic birth. Two stories, two timelines woven and connected through pain and redemption. A stunning novel, not to be missed.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What do you do when there is zero possibility for a happy ending? To whom do you turn when life is unbearably broken? That is the situation that Natalie Abbott and her family are thrown into when one of them commits a horrendous act. I had to digest this book and ponder those questions for awhile. Heidi Chiavaroli does such a beautiful, eloquent job of handling a very tragic, very relevant part of our current culture. She also uses the fictional story of Mercy Howard, a New York Patriot during the Revolutionary War, to show the universal nature of suffering and hardships. As the Abbott family deals with the aftermath of their tragedy, they read Mercy’s story and find inspiration in her reliance on faith when she has nothing else left in life. This book is not a warm, fuzzy happily ever after type story, but oh, how I love it anyway! I consider it a must-read for those who feel like they have no hope and no one to turn to in life! I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House through NetGalley and am under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Heidi Chiavaroli's latest time slip novel "The Hidden Side" is a powerful and incredibly emotional story that captivates her readers as she bravely addresses the topic of school shootings along with the bravery and losses faced by individuals fighting on both sides during the Revolutionary War. As a teacher, the school shootings hit close to home for me as that is something that we are constantly educating and preparing our staff and students of how to react to should such a situation occur. This was one book that I could not put down. Chiavaroli eloquently addresses all aspects of the situation and allows the reader to feel absolute horror at the shooting and the loss of lives, while also feeling compassion for the severe bullying that the shooter went through at school through the reading of his journals. She shared how God's mercy provided comfort and compassion during extremely difficult times and how ordinary people bravely dealt with extraordinary circumstances. This was an incredible story, and I definitely recommend it!!!
Once I had read her debut novel, I was much more open to moving on to Chiavaroli’s next book, The Hidden Side. And I was not disappointed. This one was better than her last — significantly, even. This is a novel that asks some hard questions about life, tragedy, and what constitutes a victim. For this one, I was surprised to find that the contemporary plot captured me more strongly than the historical one — but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy both. Mercy’s revolutionary era story was fairly subtle (which resulted in its lacking what could have been very fascinating details on espionage) – but it was a wonderful complement to a contemporary story that put emotions through the wringer. The contemporary story tackles a timely issue, but does so with only a couple of predictable details. Mostly it focuses on the effects of tragedy in the family of someone who initiated that tragedy. It’s a wonderful choice and helps the readers enter in to considerations of who all suffers during a tragedy. It’s not only the obvious victims. I loved that, in the end, answers aren’t really resolved in either story. Life doesn’t usually resolve things perfectly. Rather, if we seek God we can find His peace despite the reality of this fallen world. That doesn’t make the world less fallen. It just makes us aware of our deeper need for His strength and wisdom. I’ll heartily recommend Heidi Chiavaroli — and I’m looking forward to what comes next for her.
This story was heavy…it is the kind of story that will stay with me for a long time and caused me to think a lot about the issues that were presented. I had a hard time getting into the story…it took me about 150 pages to really start to enjoy it but once I hit that point, I flew through the book. I became very invested in the characters (past and present) and learned a lot about historical events. I love how the author took a story from the past and present and connected them. I also loved the faith content in the story. There are many quotes from scripture and references to the Lord as our “hiding place”, which I loved. Overall, I really enjoyed this story, it just took a bit of time for me to become invested in it (but once I did, I was hooked!). My Rating: 4 stars I received this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I discovered this author last year and was very impressed with the depth and emotion she invoked in her writing. This book is her second novel and honestly, it surpassed even the first. I didn't think it was going to be possible to top Freedom's Ring but somehow she managed to do just so. If you're looking for a light romantic read—this book is not going to fit that bill. This book is gritty, raw and often heart wrenching. As a parent, this book toyed with my emotions and made me want to hold my children tight. This book deals with very hard topics—rape, school violence, and bullying situations. Given recent school violence, I think some people will have a hard time handling these topics. The author handles them delicately but she captured the emotional upset and heart of these issues. At first, I wasn't sure how the historical part of this story was going to tie into the present. But, the author managed to bring both stories together, weaving them seamlessly. Unlike Freedom's Ring, this book doesn't have much of a romance strand. This book is more about broken people finding refuge in God. Honestly, it's why I really enjoyed this book so much. So many fiction books always include a romance. Even though life is not all lovey-dovey all the time. I appreciate these books that explore the grit of life so that hurting people can find hope in Christ. I really loved this book. I'm truly surprised that this is the author's second book to be published. She writes with the finesse of a longtime author. She truly has a gift and I'm so glad that I've discovered her novels. This book was provided to me by Tyndale. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. All opinions are my own.
This was fantastic. It made me laugh and cry. I don’t always like books that go back and forth between present day and past days but this is well done. I never had problems knowing which character I was reading about. This tells about what the family goes through when one member murders some people. Well done. I did not want to put this down. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
Wow. This is one of the best books I have read recently. So good. The thing is this book wasn’t what I accepted at all…it was so much better. I don’t even know where to begin. I could so relate to Natalie as a mom. Worried about her kids, thinking she was over reacting. Maelynn, Natalies’ daughter, is just a typical teenager, trying to fit in and be “cool”, yet questioning herself all of the time. Mercy is a sympathetic, strong character. All of these women have things to hide from the world. I love the honesty of Natalie questioning God, so true to life. Life is messy and this book gets messy. I couldn’t put this one down. It is not your typical book at all, it spoke to my mama heart very deeply. A copy of this book was given to me through Netgalley.com. All opinions are my own.
The Hidden Side is a powerful, grab you by the heart, kind of story. In actuality, it is two stories as it is a time-split novel, and both storylines are equally compelling. This was not an emotionally easy novel for me to read. But if you are looking for a book that will stretch you and make you open your heart and delve into some uncomfortable questions, then this is a great story to grab hold of. I appreciated the raw emotion and valid questions that were raised in both time periods, past and present. The author was able to bring forth the stories of a woman from the past and a family from the present who were dealing with almost incomprehensible loss and make the emotions real to the reader. I appreciated that the storyline that took place in the present did not get political, but instead walked the reader through the lives of the family members who were dealing with the aftermath of tragedy and what their new lives were going to be like. I could hardly set this book down! I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
I absolutely loved this book! It was very well written! I thoroughly enjoyed they 3 different point of views in this story. This book touches on some deep issues, but it is written in such a great way. It definitely changed my thinking about tragedy. I really loved the part of the story that took place during the Revolutionary War. I highly recommend this book to everyone! There’s a good message of hope in this book. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone
This was the first book I have read by Heidi Chiavaroli! From one contemporary story to one set during the Revolutionary war, you are drawn in rather quickly and both stories surge with emotion. Mercy Howard finds out that her beloved is a spy, which opens them both up to suspicion. Should she participate in the Patriot's cause, or stay guarded? Natalie Abbott has a family that has been slowly creeping farther away from one another, but she projects a great facade as a Christian radio host, going by the name Skye. Both women are about to see their existence, families and loyalties change in the space of days. Challenging, encouraging, heartbreaking, this novel asks us: Do we really know those around us? How do others' decisions affect our worldview? Do we love in spite of wrongs levied against us? How do you move forward after tragedy? Can there be peace in acceptance? How far would you go for someone you love? Filled with historical research, as well as current tidbits, Heidi does a awesome job melding the two time periods, and eventually, the characters. I am still reeling a bit from finishing this book, as there are difficult topics to think on and process, but I am happy at the same time. God can make beauty from ashes. This book offers that hope! * I received an advance copy to review this book. All opinions are my own. * So thankful I had the opportunity to read and review! Now, on to read Heidi's other book, Freedom's Ring! ;)
There have been a few books I’ve read in the last year that I just want to give either the author or the publisher a bravery medal for—this book is one of those. Tackling a sensitive subject that has hit too many close to home, school shooting are becoming all too frequent and are times in which the whole nation grieves. Shinning the light where it needs to be—individuals, grace, leaning on God—and not getting sideswiped by political outrages for or against gun control. I had no idea what the book was about before I picked it up and the writing was so compelling that by the third chapter I had an ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach. As a reader you can’t help by deeply feel the pain and struggle of the Abbot family and the author does a splendid job of wrenching your emotions all around. This is a book that will make you feel deeply, see differently, and pray harder.
** “But somewhere along the way, He’d let go of me. Or had I released him? He was God, though. Shouldn’t His clutch be mighty enough to hold me, even when I wriggled to get away?” ** Heidi Chiavaroli weaves together the tale of three women spanning over centuries in “The Hidden Side,” a deeply relevant novel to today’s front pages. Natalie Abbott, a radio personality, is still trying to get over the loss of her youngest son while trying to rebuild a relationship with her teen-age twins, Chris and Maelynn — he a socially awkward and bullied outsider, she dating the popular jock who’s at the center of Chris’ bullying. When Chris commits an unthinkable act, hoping to break free from his demons, Natalie struggles with how she could have let her son down while raising him. And when Maelynn learns the truths behind Chris’ actions, she must decide when and if she should share the truth. Will telling the truth help more in the healing process for everyone involved — or will it cause more damage? After Mercy Howard loses her fiancé, Nathan Hale, who was hung during the American Revolution for treason, she decides to join the effort to thwart the Redcoats and secretly fight the British invasion as a spy behind enemy lines. As she gets closer and closer to Major John Andre, a British officer with close ties to General Clinton, she also struggles in her battle of truth and deception. As each woman works through her horrific circumstances, struggling with doubts and fears, she must come to her own conclusion on accepting grace and mercy. “The Hidden Side” is an intense read that packs a major punch. The modern day portion could be taken from today’s headlines. But as difficult as it is to read on an emotional level, it does offer another perspective to horrific events. Mercy’s struggles reminds us of the battles our ancestors faced in fighting our freedoms. And this story reminds us that there isn’t always a finely defined line between right and wrong. Chiavaroli offers a brilliant story that ties together women historically separated by time, yet joined together in their adversities. This is a novel of second chances, and reminds us to always look to God for hope in the midst of darkness. It is a story of betrayal and forgiveness; reminds us that God will hold us up; raises the ever-existing question of why God allows bad to happen when He is all powerful; it deals with the “what-ifs,” doubts, unbelief and uncertainties; helps us find mercy in our brokenness; questions when dishonesty is acceptable; and the implications of putting on masks. “The Hidden Side” will force you to look deep into your heart and evaluate its deepest crevices. It will also encourage you to hug your kids and get more involved in their lives. One suggestion, this book could have used a small glossary listing terms and people from the American Revolution for those of us who have been away from school awhile and need a reminder on key terms and people from that era. And I would have like to see a bit more finality in Mercy’s story and how her story ended after the events of the war. Fans of historical novels, as well as books like those offered by Kate Morton and similar to Allison Pataki’s “The Traitor’s Wife,” will love “The Hidden Side.” Four and a half stars out of five. Tyndale House Publishers provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.