This is one of two books by Robb Grindstaff on the blog today: an author that has quickly headed to the top of my must-read list. I encourage you to try his work: I don’t see you being disappointed.
I have been mulling this review over in my head for days: every day I have a new approach, a new thought about the story, or a new idea that is the best thing ever about this story. There are so many things to adore about this story, which makes it more difficult to not miss an element. I should start by saying that this book will call to you if you put it down, it demands that you continue on the journey with Hannah, and doesn’t allow you to savor it slowly. Were it not so beautifully written with a style that shows Robb Grindstaff as a wonderful storyteller, this would be a simple book to review. So unlike any other book I have read, yet so comfortable in its difference, it is safe for me to say that this is another of my favorite reads of the year.
Hannah is different from the other children in her community: with a father who lost a long battle with cancer and a mother who’s ability to cope with the world was tenuous at best, this child grew up far too fast. She was a clever and artistic child, not comfortable with the company of other children, preferring to draw and take care of her mother to being singled out at school for her skills.
Like all children, Hannah has a singular thread of reasoning: if adults won’t believe me when I tell the truth, for she always did, and their reactions cause trouble when I speak: then speaking is something I should not do to not be ‘trouble’. As her silence becomes more noticeable, the community becomes alarmed, and the more fundamentalist members of the church start to take action.
Hannah is always silent but never without her own thoughts and opinions, her confusion, anger and sense of unjustly being used by those who should have known better: from the self-proclaimed Christian community, to the media to an “occupy wall street” type group founded by a trust-fund baby in an obvious in-your-face to her parents. The notoriety does little but bring danger to Hannah’s door: fearful people are dangerous people, fearful fanatics are deadly.
What sits at the core of this story is Hannah’s commitment to truth: and we see all of the variations and manipulations that are used to spin a belief into the “truth” that all should see from the other characters she encounters. Mixing religion, media and politics in a manner that feels very now and far-reaching , yet is wholly specific to the story of Hannah, Grindstaff has penned a novel that works on several levels to expose the fallacies in the “true story” and the way that belief is manipulated and influenced by belief, dogma and even a need for power.
There are no extras added to this story: each phase of Hannah’s life is solidly voiced and appropriate for her age, showing small changes in perspective without losing the core of the child we first met. There is nothing added for effect: this is a beautiful story that will stir emotions and thoughts as you read, and will stay with you long after the last page.
I purchased a copy of this title for my own library. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Title: Hannah's Voice
Author: Robb Grindstaff
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Evolved Publishing
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible
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.