book review, children’s fiction, Middle Grade

The Hideaway by Pam Smy

The story of Billy McKenna, a 13 year old boy who runs away from his troubled home, The Hideaway shows both Billy’s attempt to escape and his mother’s search for her missing son.

Fully illustrated by the author, this is a beautiful, moving, extremely emotional book that realistically portrays the nightmare of domestic abuse and how it isolates and destroys families.

Wow! I am in awe of Pam Smy. This is the third of her books I’ve read (Thornhill and Merrylegs being the other two), and in each book she paints vivid characters and tells deep stories with an economy of words.

While I liked the illustrations in this book, they didn’t help tell the story like the pictures in Thornhill. It was such a lovely device in that book, so I was a little disappointed that the pictures in The Hideaway only illustrated the narrative rather than continuing it.

This book is so deceptively simple. Each page contains very few words, but each word is so powerful that you are totally immersed in the story world. How the author can say so much with so few words is inspiring.

I devoured this book in one sitting. I found Billy’s story highly emotional. While there is no lurid detail, the depiction of Billy’s family life is heartbreaking. Smy handles a difficult topic with sensitivity and love, showing the isolation of victims of domestic abuse.

The theme of love giving strength is one that I agree with, and I also like how the story shows how hard it is to do the right thing. Standing up to bullies is difficult, and often requires sacrifice.

There are also some ghosts in this book, which was a pleasant surprise.

I award The Hideaway

4 thoughts on “The Hideaway by Pam Smy”

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