Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: These Things Hidden & POV

I'm beginning to wonder if my blog focuses more on reading than writing. I noticed I've done several reviews lately, so I considered not writing this one, but I just couldn't pass it up.

I picked this book up at my local library, along with a couple of other novels, for the express purpose of looking at POV. It was all a research project for me. I'm near the end of my first draft of my second novel and it's a bit different than Nourish & Strengthen. My first novel is written in first person POV, the same one all the way through, but I love books where there are multiple POVs and knew that my second novel needed be written as such.

In the beginning, I wrote each of my three MCs in third person, to keep them straight in my mind if for no other reason at the time. I figured eventually I'd switch them over to first person since everyone says you can relate to a first person character better. As I wrote, there were times I slipped into first person, but not for very long, because it just didn't feel right. So now, as I begin revising, I had a decision to make--or a couple, really: I needed to know if I wanted it first or third person and how long the chapters had to be so that my readers wouldn't get confused with too much head-hopping. Hence, the research.

I know that Jodi Picoult is very popular and she does the multiple POVs quite well, but I wanted to see if a third person, multiple POV novel could work also. When I picked up These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf and flipped through it, I was intrigued to find some characters were first person (Allison and Brynn) and some were third person (Charm and Claire). I needed to know why the author chose to present them that way and how it came off.

Let me just say, Gudenkauf pulls it off well. I don't want to give away any plot points because it was an amazing book and I think anyone interested in contemporary fiction with a little mystery/ suspense thrown in should read it. As I read, I didn't get much of my own revising done because I didn't want to put the book down. "It's research," I justified. And it was. The writing was brilliant. I found that I loved the characters that were in third person just as much as I loved the characters in first--even more so, because of their circumstances--and I got to know their inner thoughts just as well. So many of the things Claire thought and did, I could remember doing or thinking or feeling and it didn't matter that she was written in third person.

Beyond the writing, which was expressive, the plotting was perfect. Even better were the issues. Now days after finishing the book, I find myself thinking about the topics, the characters, and wishing I had more of the story to read. Lucky for me, she's got a book coming out in a few months that looks quite good and I just might have to read her first. (I hesitated with the subject matter; however, she wrote These Things Hidden with grace and good judgement without dipping into the mire of filthiness that much of contemporary fiction slogs through. So I just might try it.)

Thanks to These Things Hidden, I've figured out how I'm going to write my book and I've found a great new-to-me author that I'm excited about.