Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Book Review: "Hide" by Matthew Griffin
Poignant, beautiful, and moving, Matthew Griffin's Hide is a powerful love story that you don't often see depicted in movies, books, or television shows, but it is truly resonant and relevant.
It isn't long after World War II when Frank, returning home from military service, meets Wendell, a shy, taciturn taxidermist, in a rural North Carolina town. At this time in society, relationships such as theirs could mean being ostracized from their families, losing their jobs, shock treatments or institutionalization, going to jail, even losing their lives. But the two are drawn to each other, and decide to move into a house on the outskirts of town, where other than going to work each day they keep to themselves.
It's a solitary existence and a life filled with the fear of discovery, but their love endures for more than 50 years. And then one day, Wendell finds Frank on the ground beside his carefully tended gardenand their lives change in an instant. As Frank's physical condition worsens, and his mental acuity and mood deteriorate, Wendell faces the dual pressure of caring for a stubborn, physically incapacitated old man, and watching the love of his life decline.
They say that growing old isn't for the faint of heart, and watching the health of the person you love go downhill is tremendously difficult. Hide so beautifully captures the feelings of regret and loss, of anger and frustration, the split-second thoughts that you might be better off if they were no longer suffering. But this story is also moving because of the lives that Wendell and Frank had to live, the measures they took to avoid discovery, the sacrifices they had to make.
Griffin perfectly occupies the voices and mannerisms of his characters. While there were times that the story moved a little slower than I would have liked, I couldn't stop reading, even as I dreaded where the book might end. Hide is a moving tribute to love, and a salute to the sacrifices made by those who came before us, so we can live the lives everyone deserves to, loving the person we choose.