Welcome to our stop of Robb Grindstaff's Hannah's Voice book tour, hosted by Reading Addiction Blog Tours. Now I know that this is not the type of book I normally review here; this book is purely realistic fiction. When I first saw the tour forming for Hannah's Voice, I wasn't really sure if I should read it or not. Yeah, it looked really interesting, but those serious, contemporary novels were never really my favorite. Still, I really liked the idea, and every review I had read of it was singing its praises, so I decided to give it a try.
I'm really, really glad that I did. While it's not much like the books I normally read, it has easily become one of the best books I've read so far this year.
Hannah's Voice by Robb Grindstaff
When six-year-old Hannah’s brutal honesty is mistaken for lying, she stops speaking. Her family, her community, and eventually, the entire nation struggle to find meaning in her silence.
School officials suspect abuse. Church members are divided—either she has a message from God or is possessed by a demon. Social workers interrupt an exorcism to wrest Hannah away from her momma, who has a tenuous grip on sanity.
Hidden in protective foster care for twelve years, she loses all contact with her mother and remains mute by choice.
When Hannah leaves foster care at age eighteen to search for Momma, a national debate rages over her silence.
A religious movement awaits her prophecy and celebrates her return. An anarchist group, Voices for the Voiceless, cites Hannah as its inspiration. The nation comes unhinged, and the conflict spills into the streets when presidential candidates chime in with their opinions on Hannah—patriotic visionary or dangerous radical. A remnant still believes she is evil and seeks to dispatch her from this world.
Hannah stands at the intersection of anarchists and fundamentalists, between power politics and an FBI investigation. All she wants is to find her momma, a little peace and quiet, and maybe some pancakes.
One word would put an end to the chaos… if only Hannah can find her voice.
In addition to a career as a newspaper editor, publisher, and manager, I’ve written fiction most of my life. The newspaper biz has taken my family and me from Phoenix, Arizona, to small towns in North Carolina and Texas, and from seven years in Washington, D.C., to five years in Asia. Born and raised a small-town kid, I’m as comfortable in Tokyo or Tuna, Texas. I now reside in a small community in Wisconsin where I manage the business operations of a daily newspaper. The variety of places I’ve lived and visited serve as settings for the characters who invade my head.
I’ve had a dozen short stories published in several print anthologies and e-zines, and several articles on the craft of writing fiction. My first novel, Hannah’s Voice, debuted January 15, 2013, and two more novels are in the works for 2013-14.
I also edit fiction and non-fiction books for authors from around the world. It helps that I’m fluent in five languages: U.S. English, U.K. English, Canadian English, and Australian English, plus my native language, Texan.
While I liked the later parts of the book the best, I have the say that the thoughts of an inquisitive six year old girl were much more entertaining. Just the things that Hannah noticed and came up with on her own were amazing, but everything still always sounded like it was coming from a young child. It was really interesting to try to see the world through her eyes. Everything made absolute sense, but I kept thinking to myself, "Huh, I'd never thought of it that way before."
When I first starting reading, I was a little nervous considering how it began. Usually, when books start with the "big reveal" in a prologue on the very first page, it doesn't leave the reader much to look forward to. This book, however, is the very epitome of the journey being more important than the destination. After getting all the way through the book, I can completely understand why the author chose to do it that way. Had he not given the readers a little sneak peak, it might have seemed anticlimactic and ridiculous instead of very fitting.
But he doesn't just end it there, in what would seem like a nice place to tie things up. Had this novel been just about the fact that Hannah wasn't talking anymore, it just might have been. It wasn't; that was what the entire world was focused on, everyone excerpt for Hannah, that is. To her, it wasn't about some life changing message she had to pass on to everyone around her; it was about getting back to her life, and opening her mouth wasn't going to change that.
So the story continued, at least for a little while. Those final few chapters were my favorite because things were finally starting to look up for Hannah. I really liked how the issue with her mother was handled because it explained her behavior so well, without making me dislike her for how she had acted when Hannah was a child.
The final page was the best, though. Some part of me keeps saying that it may have been a little cheesy, and that part is probably right. It doesn't really matter, however, because cheesy or not, it was exactly what the novel needed. Hannah's entire journey had been epic, and as I saw that the book was coming to a close, I was wondering how on Earth something like that could be wrapped up well. Somehow, the author managed to pull it off, and I can't possibly imagine a better way for him to have done it.
Out of all of this, the thing that amazed me the most was how willingly people are able to distort the simplest of things into some crazy idea that they just couldn't let go. It's like they see something that may in some way support what they're saying, and then suddenly they're making excuses for it and twisting it into their own image to make it fit. They want to believe something so badly that they'll take the most easily explained of circumstances and make it the most complicated thing out there just to prove a point that doesn't really exist. Suddenly a little girl's silence speaks volumes louder than any words ever could, yet it never seem to be saying the same thing to anyone.
I crawled back into her lap, curled my lips up to show her how white and shiny they were, and exhaled my minty fresh breath for her to smell.
Her blue eyes sparkled behind her glasses like the biggest jewels in a treasure chest. "Oh lovely, what lovely teeth you have. You have your father's teeth."
I didn't have my father's teeth. His were still in his mouth, his lips closed tight over them. I'd kissed him goodnight last year at the church. Momma said he was going to sleep and would wake up with Jesus and the angels.
I didn't even have all of my own teeth. The two top front ones were gone, along with one on the bottom, so brushing the few I had left didn't take long. But I scrubbed them three times a day to make sure they were shiny and clean when I kissed Momma goodnight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
February 20 - Review at Cozie Corner
February 21 - Review at Author Ever Leigh
February 22 - Review & Interview at Andi's Book Reviews
February 23 - Review at Marked By Books
February 25 - Review at My Reading Addiction
February 26 - Review at Uttleys Take
February 27 - Review at Keenly Kristin
February 28 - Review at The Self-Taught Cook
March 1 - Review at Genuine Jenn
March 1 - Review at Gimme The Scoop
March 4 - Review at The World As I See It
March 6 - Review at The Story Factory Reading Zone
March 7 - Review at My Devotional Thoughts
March 8 - Review at J. Heather Leigh
March 9 - Review at Book Wookie
March 10 - Review at Reviewing Shelf
March 11 - Review & Interview at Book Referees
March 13 - Review at Bean Counting Mommy
March 15 - Review at RABT Reviews