Category Archives: What You Hide

Review: What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards

Title: What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Mallory didn’t want to leave home, but it wasn’t safe to stay. So she sleeps at her best friend’s house and spends the rest of her time at the library, doing her online schoolwork and figuring out what comes next. Because she’s not going live in fear like her mother.

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service for a stunt he pulled, but he likes the work. And it’s the perfect escape from his parents’ pressure to excel at school, at ice hockey, at everything. Especially after he meets Mallory.

Then there is a tragic death at the library. Suddenly, what was once a sanctuary turns sinister. Ghostly footprints, strange scratching sounds, scrawled messages on bulletin boards and walls… Mallory and Spencer don’t know who or what is responsible, but one thing is for sure:

They are not as alone—or as safe—as they thought.


What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards is a poignant young adult novel which also includes a slight mystery element.

Sixteen year old Mallory Halston has been trying to get her pregnant mother to leave her overbearing stepfather Charlie. After her latest effort fails, Mallory knows she cannot remain at home when Charlie issues a menacing threat. Determined to be stronger than her mother, Mallory enrolls in an online school in order to continue her education. She winds up spending most of her free time in a local library where she meets Spencer Keller.  She is uneasy about their growing friendship and she stubbornly tries to resist his efforts to help her once he realizes she has been staying overnight in the library.

Mallory is fearful for her and her mother’s safety because of Charlie’s controlling behavior.  Mallory is shocked at the changes in her mother but her efforts to help her have been fruitless. In spite of the challenges of her current homelessness, Mallory knows she has made the right decision to strike out on her own.  However, she is aware that her current living arrangements are unsustainable for long term but she is struggling with finding a solution. Will Mallory be forced to return to the dysfunctional life she left behind?

Spencer’s life is the complete opposite of Mallory’s. He is from a wealthy family and he leads a rather privileged life.  Despite the advantages his parents provide him, he is struggling under the weight of his family’s expectations for his future. Spencer is resisting his family’s pressure to make plans for college due to reasons he finds difficult to articulate. His problems pale in comparison to Mallory’s issues yet she is quick to assure him that his troubles are just as valid as hers. Will helping Mallory provide Spencer with a clearer picture of what he wants to do with his life?

A mystery at the library is welcome, albeit frightening, distraction for Mallory and Spencer. After a young woman dies inside the library, mysterious footprints, heartbreaking notes and woeful crying begin occurring with alarming frequency. Although Mallory has stayed overnight at the library on numerous occasions, she has yet to locate the person responsible for these eerie happenings. Can Mallory and Spencer solve the mystery of who is responsible for these unsettling events?

Written in first person and alternating between Spencer’s and Mallory’s points of view,  What You Hide  is an engaging young adult novel that touches on relevant social issues. Mallory is a strong young woman who is wise beyond her years. Spencer is a charming, likable teenager who, despite his wealthy background, is struggling with some of the same issues as other kids his age.  The romance between Mallory and Spencer is low-key and unfolds naturally from their budding friendship. The mystery aspect is subtle and adds another layer to the multi-dimensional storyline.  Natalie D. Richards brings the novel to an imperfect conclusion that is realistic.  I highly recommend this heartfelt young adult novel to readers of all ages.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mystery, Natalie D Richards, Rated B, Review, Sourcebooks Fire, What You Hide, Young Adult