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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hidden by Paul Jaskunas~★★★★

Author: Paul Jaskunas
Title: Hidden
Release Date: June 29th, 2004
Publisher: Free Press
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "As unnerving as it is mesmerizing, Hidden is an evocative, emotionally charged domestic drama---a willful and traumatized woman's painful search for the truth about the man who assaulted her one summer night.
Six years after the attack, Maggie Wilson receives a call from the prosecutor who helped put her husband in jail after Maggie identified him as the man who nearly killed her. Told that another inmate has confessed to the crime and that her ex-husband will be freed, the shock plunges Maggie into memories of her stomy marriage to Nate Duke, the ambitious heir to a real estate company. Secluded in an old farmhouse that was her marital home, Maggie relives her marriage to Nate and his abusive treatment of her. But in her present, a very different man is haunting her---the born-again convict who has confessed to the crime. As his story competes with hers, Maggie pores through trial transcripts, old journals, and photo albums, trying fruitlessly to remember exactly what happened.
Written in spare, elegant prose, Paul Jaskunas's novel reads like a waking dream as Maggie is torn by the question---was it Nate? Or was it this stranger who seems to know intimate details? And what will it cost her to discover the truth? A work of searing suspense written in the heroine's brave voice, Hidden is ultimately about a woman confronting the betrayal of her body and the ambiguity of her mind."

Taryn's Review: Once in a psychology class I took, I was idly taking notes when five people burst through the doors into the forum while screaming and holding water guns (this was pre-Virginia Tech). They ran up and down the stairs of the forum, yelled something, shot a couple people with water, and ran out. Right afterward, our professor told us that was her son and a few of his friends that were helping her conduct an experiment. She told us to get out a piece of paper and proceeded to ask us questions about the incident such as, "What color shirt was the tall one wearing?" and "What doors did the group enter through?" and the most difficult question to answer: "What happened?"

All of students' answers varied. I felt betrayed by my own mind when I missed a few of the answers. Hadn't I been there? Didn't I just witness this? Apparently, it is common among victims of attacks to not remember exactly what happened. Maggie Wilson was a victim who thought she perfectly remembered the night her husband almost killed her, but evidence began to show that perhaps Maggie was mistaken.

Maggie's story bounced back and forth from 1996 to 2002 as she recalled life with her ex-husband and the issues that led to the night when Maggie was savagely beaten and raped in her own home. She suffered horrific brain damage and afterward had to deal with epileptic seizures. After an inmate confessed that he was the one who hurt Maggie, she found herself in a destructive downward spiral desperately trying to prove what she saw while the idea that her mind may have betrayed her is looming. Maggie accused her husband of  being her attacker...was she wrong? 

I actually was shocked when I realized a man wrote this book. Paul Jaskunas did a fantastic job telling the story from a female perspective and I really felt Maggie's frustrations in the story. The story is dark, yet I found it engaging.

The reason for 4 stars is that I didn't really recognize there was such a discontent between Maggie and her husband Nate until she cheated on him. The story really doesn't show how strained the relationship must be for Maggie to cheat unless she cheated just for the heck of it, but that feeling just wasn't there, either. It was just very hazy.

Overall, I really liked the book. Maggie wants to know what really happened, as does the reader, but the question lingers; can we ever really know? I also have a little hometown pride in the book, but until I picked it up, I had no idea it was set in my neck of the woods! 

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