Maggie Wilson remembered what happened that night she was left for dead. Her then-husband Nate came home drunk. She could see him in the doorframe still, raising his hand to strike her. She never doubted that memory. But then, five years later, someone else confessed to the attack.
This gripping first novel by Paul Jaskunas reads like a memoir as he captures the earnest voice of this beautiful young woman, turned into the village freak by the savage attack. Her testimony sent Nate to prison, and Maggie, now 28, must consider that she might have misremembered. Maybe it wasn't her husband after all. Maybe that powerful memory was false.
Tautly written, Hidden opens with Maggie's description of the scene when the police arrive and find her unconscious and bleeding on the floor of their farmhouse near the picturesque Utopian community of New Harmony, Indiana. The reader gradually learns much about Maggie: how she happened to marry so young, and how she came to violate her marriage vows with a co-worker; how she wants to lose herself. "Mine is a secretive country," Maggie says. "It was settled by people who came here to hide." Supporting characters come off well in this novel, and that's what keeps it compelling. Manny, the 78-year-old neighbor Maggie drinks gin with is as memorable as her tedious, devoted mother, or Nate, who makes the mistake of taking his domineering father for a role model.
No simple story of good and evil, this novel keeps you guessing. Jaskunas, who is himself an epileptic, gives convincing descriptions of the seizures Maggie undergoes following her injuries. He tells how seizures feel from the inside. In fact, Hidden is a well-told story of what an experience like Maggie's would feel like from the inside how it might feel to no longer trust your memory. Anne Morris is a reviewer from Austin, Texas.