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September 26, 2022

The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts


A sweeping World War II tale of an illusionist whose recruitment by British intelligence sets her on a perilous, heartrending path.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical fiction novel The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris
September 2022; Sourcebooks Landmark; 978-1728249797
audio, ebook, print (496 pages); historical fiction

I read a lot of WWII fiction and am always amazed when I read a book that looks at the war from a different perspective and is full of new things for me to learn.  The author did considerable research and it shows on every page.  The Ways We Hide is a dual timeline book that looks at Fenna's life at 10 years old in Upper Michigan copper country and the other timeline is about her life throughout WWII.

1942 - When the novel begins, Fenna is presenting her magic act in front of a crowd.  From a young age, she was intrigued with Houdini and his magic act where he was able to defy reality and escape from restraints.  Fenna has a knack for creating new magic tricks and she and her helper, Charles, have intrigued the audience.  After the show, she is approached by a gentleman who asks her if she'd be interested in going to London to work with British intelligence to create items to help prisoners of war in Germany.  Together they create things like a razor that is really a compass and a board game with a map hidden in it.  She becomes known as the 'gadget girl' while she's working for M19 outside of London.  When a test of her loyalty draws her into occupied Europe, she has to decide what is really important in her life and if she can overcome her past. 

1928 - Fenna's mother died several years earlier so her family is just her and her father.  He is a cooper miner who is on strike for better working conditions.  While they are at a Christmas gathering with several hundred people, someone yells FIRE and she becomes trapped in the stairwell with a mob trying to get out of the building.  This part of the story is based on the Italian Hall Disaster of 1913 where 73 people - mostly children - were killed trying to escape a building.  Fenna is almost suffocated but manages to escape with the help of a young boy, Arie who lives in her apartment building.  The fire and the young boy both become important parts of the rest of her life.  Because of the fire, she has panic attacks if she is in a confined area and feels as if she's suffocating.  Arie tries to help her and takes her to a Houdini film to watch the escape artist perform magic tricks.  After that film, she becomes enamored with magic tricks and develops some of her own.

The Ways We Hide is about two traumatized children who grow up to be troubled adults and the ways that they hide their hurt and their love from each other and from the world around them.  It's a story of family, love, bravery, and forgiveness as these two people - Fenna and Arie - grow up and become part of the war effort and have to decide what is really important in their lives.

Be sure to read the Author's Notes at the end of the book.  She shares a lot of information on what was true in her novel as well as the real people she based some of her characters on.  

If you enjoy World War II fiction, you don't want to miss this book.  It's always interesting to get a different look at the war and the ways that British intelligence worked to help their troops.  Plus I always enjoy a book with a strong female character who commits acts of bravery to help others.

Buy The Ways We Hide at Amazon

 
Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  You can connect with her on Facebook.


 


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