Friday, February 10, 2012

My take on: What Happened to Hannah

Twenty years ago Hannah Benson ran away from the nightmare that was her own home. An abusive father and a painful secret have kept Hannah away from Clearfield. Hannah built a life and a career for herself, but the physical and emotional scars of the past are always with her. But Hannah's bubble is about to burst when tragedy brings her back to Clearfield.

A phone call from her high school sweetheart Grady, who is now the town sheriff, brings the past back to the present. Hannah's mother has died, leaving her niece Anna without family. What does Hannah know about raising a teenager? Will they even like each other? Will Anna reject her? Hannah's first instinct is to wonder why her sister Ruth can't raise her own daughter. Ruth died years ago. Her abusive father died the night Hannah ran away. It seemed very insensitive to me that Hannah never wondered what happened to her family. Hannah saved herself, which she had every right to. Hannah spent years protecting Ruth, and taking the brunt of her father's abuse. All she ever wanted was for her mother to love her and protect her. Despite all the disappointments, wouldn't some part of her want to make sure they were Ok? She let everyone believe she was dead, a lie generated by her mother.

Hannah will have to face all her internal demons when she goes back to Clearfield. Grady takes everything Hannah says and does with a grain of salt. There is something about her that he doesn't trust. As kids, Grady spent years breaking through Hannah's shell. Grady's small acts of kindness were met with resistance from Hannah. She wasn't used to kindness. A wrong look, a wrong word or a wrong action were all it took to set her father off. When someone, like Grady, tried to be nice to her Hannah didn't know how to handle it. But eventually, Hannah and Grady fell in love. A love that had to be hidden from her family. A love that fell apart the night Hannah ran away. In the present day, just Hannah's mere presence pulls at Grady's heartstrings. Despite his feelings he knows Hannah is hiding something. How can he get close or trust her if he doesn't know the truth? He has is own children and his heart to protect.

Hannah's fears seem very real, which is something that kept me coming back for more. Just being in Clearfield brings back so many memories, actually very vivid flashbacks. Just going in the family barn is traumatic for Hannah. In her mind it's 20 years ago, and she is hiding from her father again. Anna is struggling internally just like her aunt. She doesn't want to rock the boat, fearing her aunt will reject her. Anna wants to go with the flow, rather than saying what she wants. She has close friends and a promising athletic career. If Anna fights for what she wants, Hannah might leave. If Hannah leaves, she would be just another person who has abandoned Anna. Her mother struggled as a parent. Her grandmother raised her with more grace and love than she did Hannah. Now that both of them are dead, she can't risk losing her only family connection.

Discovering Hannah's secret is at the heart of this book. What that secret might be is alluded to throughout the book. I had a strong feeling of what is was. It's a secret that could jeopardize her relationship with Anna and her freedom. Trying to get to the bottom of her secret is what kept me coming back for more. My one criticism would be that the resolution to the story seems a little rushed. The ending seems too good to be true for Hannah. But overall, this is a very good book. You have hope for Hannah's future, she can overcome her past.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) in exchange for an honest review.

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