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“You were always brave. You just never had to prove it,” Davey. –Hideout
by Watt Key
Twelve-year-old Sam has been given a fishing boat by his father, but he hates fishing. Instead, he uses the boat to disappear for hours at a time, exploring the forbidden swampy surroundings of his bayou home. Then he discovers a strange kid named Davey, mysteriously alone, repairing an abandoned cabin deep in the woods. Not fooled by the boy’s evasive explanation as to why he’s on his own, Sam becomes entangled in his own efforts to help Davey. But this leads him to tell small lies that only get bigger as the danger increases for both boys and hidden truths become harder to conceal.
Hideout is a suspenseful survival story that delves into the complicated nature of friendship, self-esteem, and evil. Sam and his best friend, Grover, are savagely beaten. Sam is unable to forget about “the fight” and blames himself for the event. Told from Sam’s perspective, the reader gets an inside view of how Sam feels ashamed. He thinks that if he wasn’t a loser, “the fight” would have never happened. While Sam struggles with his own personal demons, he meets Davey who is living alone in the middle of a swamp.
Davey’s story is one full of hardship and mystery. Even though Davey is secretive, Sam is determined to help him. In doing so, Sam begins to tell lies that get him into a dangerous situation. Readers will be drawn into the two boys’ lives and wonder if their secrets will lead to their downfall.
Hideout expertly weaves the boys’ stories into an interesting, suspenseful story that is difficult to put down. The story ends on a happy note and shows Sam’s character growth. In the end, Sam learns several important lessons. He finally realizes that “there’s just bad people in the world. Sometimes they do bad things to people like us. But it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with us.” In addition, Sam learns that “being a man isn’t about winning fights and carrying guns. It’s about helping people however you can, no matter what.”
Fans of survival stories will enjoy Hideout’s fast pace, the surprises, and the life lessons. In addition, readers will empathize with Sam and Davey, who both struggle with hardships. Readers who enjoy Hideout should check out Key’s other survival stories which include Terror at Bottle Creek and the Alabama Moon Series. Readers looking for another intense survival story should check out ADRIFT by Paul Griffin and Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop.
- Leroy and Gooch beat up Sam and his best friend, Grover. Leroy “tripped Grover. . . he smacked hard onto the concrete.” Then, Gooch “shot out and his fist punched Grover in the chest so hard it sounded like a hammer thumping a wood barrel. Grover flew backwards into the lockers and collapsed . . .” Sam tried to help him and “Gooch’s arm slid around my throat and constricted me in the crook of his elbow. . .”
- While Grover was still on the ground, Leroy “kicked him in the stomach and bounced him off the lockers like a soccer ball.”
- During the fight, Sam “began to struggle against Gooch, trying to break free. Then I felt a sharp blow to my ribs, and what breath I had left me and everything went blurry. . . Gooch kicked me in the stomach . . . [Sam felt] blows to [his] face and stomach and arms until it didn’t hurt anymore.” Both Sam and Grover have to be hospitalized. The fight is described over three pages.
- Sam’s father chases a thief. “I saw the big man sitting up and punching down. . . I saw Dad start to stand. Suddenly he was falling, and then he was gone and the big man was punching again.” Sam’s father is able to restrain the man.
- Sam meets a boy who tells him, “My stepmom got a boyfriend, and Dad stabbed him in the stomach with the knife.” No other details are mentioned.
- Davey was in a foster home. “My foster dad used to tell me I was like a stray dog that nobody wanted. He hurt me sometimes, but he didn’t do it so you could tell. He’d do things like press his thumbs up real hard under my armpits. . . If I yelled, he’d press harder until I got quiet.”
- Davey’s foster dad sprayed him “in the face with some air freshener . . . Everything’s been blurry ever since.”
- Davey’s step-brother, Slade, tells Sam, “And if you screw up, I’m gonna come to your house on Acorn Drive and kill you in your sleep.”
- Slade got upset at one of his friends and “grabbed him by the throat with one hand. Jesse swung and hit him in the stomach. . . [Slade] punched him in the face. . . Slade kicked him hard in the ribs and he went down again, clutching his side.”
- Slade kicks Davey “in the shoulder and knocked him over into the leaves.”
- While trying to flee the swamp, Slade crashes into a patrol boat. Davey gets thrown and stops breathing. After receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Davey is revived.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Slade and his friends show up with beer. The step-brother’s friends “were each drinking a beer.”
- Slade and his friends are growing marijuana out in the swamp.
- Sam’s father grabbed a beer.
- Profanity is used rarely. Profanity includes ass, crap, hell, and pissed.
- A classmate trips Grover, Grover calls the boy a “dumbass” and a “stupid redneck.”
- Someone calls Grover a “wuss.”
- “Christ,” “Lord” and “my god” are used as exclamations seven times altogether.
- Grover calls Sam’s dad a “redneck cop.”
- Dumbass is used three times. For example, Davey’s step-brother calls him a dumbass.
- Someone asks Sam, “Are you a complete idiot?”
- While trying to resuscitate Davey, the officer says, “Breathe, damnit!”
- Sam’s family attends First Methodist Church.
- When Sam’s boat is almost out of gas, he prays, “Please God, let me get home. Just this one time. . . Okay, God, I won’t go out there again [into the swamp]. Just let me get home and I won’t go out there again.”
- When Sam goes to church, he “remembered my plea to God and tried my best to pay attention to the sermon as repayment for any help.” The preacher’s sermon, which was about the good Samaritan, is paraphrased in a paragraph.
- Sam goes missing. When his father finds him, he says, “Thank God.”