Cover Image: The Hideaway

The Hideaway

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Member Reviews

I adored this book. The illustrations work beautifully with the story, emphasizing the emotional heaviness. The binding is also great selling point on its own - one of our booksellers wished she could have the endsheet design as giftwrap. We've made the book one of our staff picks and the following is our "shelftalker" review/summary that is on display with the book.

"13 yr old Billy McKenna runs away one night when he can no longer take his parents fighting and hides out in an overgrown abandoned cemetery. He begins to clean up the gravestones leading up to All Souls Day.
The story alternates between the point of view of Billy and his mother, as she tries to leave her abusive relationship and find Billy. Smy's beautiful and atmospheric illustrations make this an important read for both adults and children.
The Hideaway deals with heavy topics such as domestic abuse, assault, and familiar estrangement. It is appropriate for 12+, or younger if read in a discussion with trusted adults."
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The Hideaway, is a bit dark and definitely deals with some themes you may want to prescreen. However, it is wonderfully written and has enchanting graphic-novelesque black and white artwork throughout – which younger readers will love!
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Young Billy McKenna is tired of the violence going on in his house and he knows it won't get any better, so he packs a bag and leaves. He has a place to stay in mind, somewhere almost no one will visit; an old, overgrown cemetery. His mother, in an alternating pov, is desperate for her son's return, and the community comes together to help return him to her. 

I recently read Pam Smy's Thornhill and loved it. The Hideaway is quite similar in style, with haunting black & white illustrations mixed into the alternating POVs between a boy and his mother.

This definitely touches on some tough topics such as domestic abuse and abandonment but I love how Smy tackles these topics and turns this dark tale into something truly beautiful.

There's also a lovely paranormal twist at the end that makes this a good Spooky Season read!
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Very well done middle grade story told in dual perspective. 13 year old Billy has run away from home and is hiding out in a graveyard. We get to hear both his perspective as well as that of what is going on at his home when his disappearance is discovered. I really loved how his sections of the book include lovely illustrations and the other parts are plain, almost like reading a police report. Very effective way of bringing more depth to the story. I do wish the ending wasn't quite so abrupt but all in all a beautiful story.
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This was such a sweet children's story by Pam Smy. I particularly liked how the illustrations only appeared on Billy's timeline, whereas his mother, Grace, had plain, stark pages.

Billy runs away from home, due to the domestic abuse that occurs in the house from Jeff, Billy's mother's boyfriend. Billy hides away in an old pill box in a graveyard and strikes up a friendship with an old man, clearing weeds from graves. Unbeknownst to Billy, the old man is prepping for All Souls Night, a special occasion when Billy sees something wonderful happen.

This touching story was perfectly pitched. Jeff's menace was not too detailed, but it was clear how much of an awful person he was. Billy's mother, Grace was brave and courageous, with the support of the police and her neighbours and Billy himself was a lovely little boy who only did what he did, because he felt he had no choice.

This was a quick read, with short chapters, which I think will help some younger readers.
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This was really interesting. It was interesting and I love the ghosts in it. It really added to the atmosphere of the story. The ending was very special.
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I first discovered Pam Smy when she was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s book prize in 2018 and so was curious to see if her second book could live up to the high standard of her debut. In fact, I think it surpasses it. 

Smy’s style is sumptuous, not only for the way that she illustrates her heartbreaking prose but for the way the artwork & words compliment each other.  The book deals with difficult subjects but in a sensitive manner and with characters that you are urging to escape the shackles of their life through every chapter. 
This was a wish that I was so pleased to be granted, as it was an overwhelming reading experience. It’s exquisite and I’m sure it will make a huge impact on everyone who turns that first page.
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I found "The Hideaway" to be so moving and special. Certain lines resonated with me, as a survivor of domestic abuse with children who also carry with them, the weight of abuse. beautifully illustrated and tenderly written, Pam Say never ceases to bring this careful emotion to her writing. Told in two POVs it truly grips and invests you in the mother/son dynamic and tackles the difficulties of domestic abuse and violence. This will be powerful for all ages but especially important for children in the 11-13 year old age range. I'll be buying a physical copy to revisit in the future.
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When Billy realises that his mother's partner is embarking on another of his abusive attacks on his mother, Billy can take no more. He has his rucksack already packed and leaves the house,  meaning to camp out nearby where nobody will find him.  But things don't go quite to plan. This is a really well written book, with lovely illustrations, but it did worry me that the ending was just too unrealistic and optimistic, which might give some youngsters false hope, if they are stuck in a household which is ruled by domestic violence.
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A wonderful combination of  magical realism and the hard hitting reality of domestic violence. All of the characters were really well developed and convincing, Billy in particular. Told through twin strands of Billy and the adults involved in looking for him, this is both starkly realistic and warmly supernatural. I felt the difficult issue of domestic violence was sensitively handled, the desperation that both gradually wore Billy's mother down leading to her isolation and finally drives Billy from his home, come across incredibly well. I particularly loved Billy's side, the wonderfully illustrated graveyard where the build up to All Souls is also a means of Billy finding hope and the beginnings of a new future. It's such a beautiful, well told story that works perfectly.
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The story and illustrations were interesting and well combined for a middle grades story about a boy who runs away in the midst of domestic abuse at home.  The subject matter was handled well within the story and offered various views of relationships.  I felt that some were left unresolved, such as Izzie's relationship with her mom and whether the man in the graveyard was real or a ghost himself.  I think the supernatural aspect worked, but there was such a heavy emphasis on the domestic abuse that I wish the author would have focused on one or the other.
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When Billy runs away from home to escape domestic violence, he meets an old man who takes him under his wing. The story, written as a dual narrative by Billy and his mum, explores family relationships and the nature of love.

The book is illustrated throughout with atmospheric black and white drawings. I loved this element of the story and towards the end, when the illustrations took over from the narrative, I was spellbound. Even though the story covers the upsetting topic of domestic violence, it is handled sensitively. The twists and turns kept coming, right to the end. I absolutely loved it!

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This story is one that needs to be told. It deals with domestic violence, fear, and family relationships. Billy has had enough. He can no longer tolerate the conditions at home where his mother's partner, Jeff, abuses them. Like many abusers, it is subtle and not seen by others. Indeed, Jeff seems to be a master of putting on false charm when required, but behind the scenes his nastiness is awful.  Billy hides in an overgrown graveyard where he meets an old man who tends the graves and listens to Billy. When the police become involved in the search for Billy, he must decide if he wants to come out of hiding. He feels guilty, knowing his mother must be worried sick but the fear of what he has to return to keeps him from wanting to stay in the hideout.
This is a moving story with beautiful, moody illustrations. A top read.
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A lovely teen novella tackling a difficult topic. This reminded me of a literary magazine I used to get when I was a teen with a big story every month, the hero always a relatable teen. I used to love it, and I think lots of 13-16 years old will like that one and finding it meaningful with lots of food for thought. The only thing it was missing was little touches of humour to break the tension of the heavy topic. But there is nothing inappropriate here despite the real life family drama aspect. It might be just the thing to start talking about empathy, understanding that not everything is as it first looks and how to help other people out.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Pavilion for the ARC of this in exchange for my honest review. 

I definitely see the comparisons to The Graveyard book, and I’d say also A Monster Calls. I loved the illustrations, the well done heavier topics without going into too much detail, and the near resolution. Recommend this one for all fans of middle grade, but especially those who appreciate lots of illustrations and just a tiny bit of ghost vibes, without being particularly fantasy heavy.
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I was interested in obtaining this ARC from NetGalley for having The Graveyard Book vibes. So happy that I received it! 

This story alternates between Billy and Grace McKenna’s perspectives (a change in font is a clear indicator between chapters). The illustrations were beautiful and added a childish-feel, which was a lighthearted balance to a rather difficult story. 

The illustrations suggest middle grade, as the book is was marketed as middle grade, but I think YA is better considering the tough topics of domestic violence and consent.

It didn’t have the amount of macabre or supernatural that I preferred, but it was really a great story about how change is possible and things working out when you least except them. 

I would recommend to upper middle school and high school readers! 

TW: domestic violence
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Billy feels his only way out is to run away, not far but away from the constant abuse happening at home. He loves is mother and misses having a safe and happy home with her. He cannot bare anymore to see his step-father destroy his mother and to be constantly living in fear, that he will was also experience his step-fathers violence. 

Billy's mother is devastated when she finds her son has disappeared, finding the strength to turn to her neighbours to ask for their help. Neighbours that she hasn't even met before as her abusive partner won't allow her to have relationships with anyone else. She needs them though to find her son and by reaching out and asking for help, she finds a whole community of people who do far more than just help her find Billy. They help her to rediscover herself. 

I found this book so captivating, the story was a simple one in lots of ways but so beautifully woven together with Pam's recognisable beautiful black and white illustrations. The theme around domestic abuse was handled with such care and honesty. For many young readers this might be the first time they have read a book about this subject matter or they themselves may of had/be having, experiences of it. So to show it through the eyes of the teenager and his mother was cleverly done. 

It didn't sugar coat things but carefully put together what it feels like to lose the people you love to an abuser and how someone feels to be lost in that situation. This is a great way to teach young people to empathise with this situation but also to learn that if they ever found themselves in something similar, that there are people there to help, that actually there are more good people in the world than not.
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Here is a story about a boy who is having problems at home - he loves his mom but he can't take the fights anymore. The fights between his mom's boyfriend and his mom. So he moves into a graveyard.  

We follow two POVs in this story.  On is the boy which is matched with beautiful full page illustrations.  The other is the mom and police officers trying to find him.  This POV has no illustrations and was so gripping to have that distinction.  

I was drawn in from the beginning.  The artwork as AMAZING and the story was compelling.  It felt like an ageless story.  I actually sobbed heavily when I got to the end of this book, and had to pause multiple times to clear my vision while reading.  

There are quit a few trigger warnings to go with this book - the biggest being domestic abuse.  I think this would be a perfect book for young readers to better understand what someone else might be going through.  

Also the ending has a beautifully magical.

Thanks to Netgalley and Pavilion Children's for giving me a copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.
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Pam Smy has been on my radar since the release of her first book but this is my first experience with reading one. I knew that it was going to be something that would stick with me forever and I was right. 

This one caught my attention, not only when I first saw who the author was but by that beautiful cover. It instantly caught my attention and I couldn’t look away. Everything about it is absolutely brilliant. The colors and the illustration together is something that stands out from others. 

The story was a heavy and important one. Stories involving domestic abuse always get me emotional and this story affected me deeply. With every turn of the page, I found myself getting teary-eyed with goosebumps traveling up my arms. It really makes you realize that kids see more than you think. 

As we travel through the story, there are hauntingly beautiful illustrations placed throughout. Together they made this a phenomenal book. Everything about this book was fantastic and I can’t wait to own a copy. 

The Hideaway was a perfect story with a hopeful ending. It will break your heart and mend it before it’s over. I love this book and it’s one I’ll always remember. I can’t wait to read it again.
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This is another excellent book by Pam Smy. Thornhill was an incredibly story combining beautiful illustrations and this new book is equally good. Tackling the subject of domestic violence through the eyes of Biliy and his mum, Grace.
Billy takes refuge in a graveyard and befriends an elderly volunteer who tidies the area and at the end of the story learns about real love.
Grace’s story is told with sensitivity and clarity highlighting the realities of a manipulative bullying relationship and tells of the eventual “escape”.
This is a powerful book and would be excellent for 10 + readership. A book I will recommend to upper Ks 2 colleagues
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