When Ahmed's parents send him to a residential treatment center known as Serenity Ridge, it's with one goal: to "fix" their son, at any cost. But eleven months of abuse and overmedication leave him desperate to escape. And when the opportunity comes, Ahmed runs away to San Francisco.
There, he moves into a secret safe house shared by a group of teens. Until they become independent at eighteen, the housemates hide away from authorities, bound by rules that both protect and frustrate. Ahmed, now known as Ben, tries to adjust to a life lived in impossibly close quarters with people he barely knows, all of whom guard secrets of their own. But even if they succeed in keeping the world at bay, there's no hiding from each other or from themselves. And there's no avoiding the conflicts, crushes, loneliness, and desire that could shatter their fragile, complicated sanctuary at any moment. . .
I wish SO much that I could have found a better resolution cover to share with you all. Trust me, I looked. This cover is beautiful and completely matches the story within.
I'm not even sure how to put my first thoughts into a coherent sentence.
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.
Author: Tomas Mournian
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Pages: Paperback; 304
Source: Received for review.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.