Review: Hannah's Dream

Hannah’s Dream is our sixth selection for the MMBC. We will begin discussing the book on Wednesday, July 22nd. The author has generously donated 12 books. If you are interested in participating please send me an email with your address and ‘Hannah’s Dream’ in the subject line.

When I started reading this book last week I mentioned that I expected to shed a few tears reading this book on twitter and I received several emails/tweets back confirming tears where in my future. This is a wonderfully written book and I’m so thankful Harper Collins sent me a copy to read/review. Each month I try to select unique books so we are reading a variety of storylines/themes. I expect everyone will enjoy reading this story!
A must read - a tender story, filled with love and compassion.

Below you will find an author Q&A below to learn a little more about the author, enjoy the book!
BWAV rating of this book: 4 stars
Type: Fiction, 319 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:An elephant never forgets . . . but can she dream?

For forty-one years, Samson Brown has been caring for Hannah, the lone elephant at the down-at-the-heels Max L. Biedelman Zoo. Having vowed not to retire until an equally loving and devoted caretaker is found to replace him, Sam rejoices when smart, compassionate Neva Wilson is hired as the new elephant keeper. But Neva quickly discovers what Sam already knows: that despite their loving care, Hannah is isolated from other elephants and her feet are nearly ruined from standing on hard concrete all day. Using her contacts in the zookeeping world, Neva and Sam hatch a plan to send Hannah to an elephant sanctuary—just as the zoo's angry, unhappy director launches an aggressive revitalization campaign that spotlights Hannah as the star attraction, inextricably tying Hannah's future to the fate of the Max L. Biedelman Zoo.

A charming, poignant, and captivating novel certain to enthrall readers of Water for Elephants, Diane Hammond's Hannah's Dream is a beautifully told tale rich in heart, humor, and intelligence.

“Irresistibly touching, delectably uplifting, Hammond’s understated yet gargantuan tale of devotion and commitment poignantly proves that loves does indeed come in all shapes and sizes” – Booklist

Amazon Review: This is a heart-warming story that brought tears to my eyes! Hammond did a fantastic job bringing the characters and setting to life and I absolutely fell in love with Hannah.

Author Q&A
Tell us a little about yourself: I began my professional life at a department store in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1977, but I was fired, so who cares about that job. I badly wanted to be an advertising copywriter but no one would hire me, so instead I became an editorial assistant for a publisher of building industry tabloids. I lasted there for two years, until a move took me to Washington D.C. in 1980.

There, at a trade association and then a women's college, I had my first experience with editing (I like it, but I'm not very good at it) and public relations (I'm good at but I don't like it). More importantly, I began writing fiction in earnest for the first time, cutting my teeth on short stories, attending classes and workshops at the Glen Echo Writers Center in Glen Echo, Maryland, and joining a number of ad hoc writing groups. I had a total of 10 or so short stories published in various commercial and literary publications, but I was much prouder of the fact that I began receiving personal rejection notices from C. Michael Curtis at The Atlantic Monthly, and Daniel Menaker, then an editor at The New Yorker.

I moved to tiny Newport, Oregon, on the central Oregon coast, in 1984, and have considered myself a Pacific Northwesterner ever since. Newport was a writer’s paradise with its relative isolation, constant winter storms and harsh beauty. I began maturing artistically there, discovering themes and settings that have resonated in my writing ever since. At the same time, I worked for the local electric utility through 1989. Somewhere in through there I also received an Oregon Arts Commission grant. I've never found a workplace or colleagues more interesting; at least, not until I became press secretary for Keiko, the killer whale star of the hit movie Free Willy from 1995 to 1998.

I wrote half of my first book, Going to Bend, in Newport, but got tangled up in craft and plot issues and put the whole thing aside for eight years. In 1998, I resurrected the half-manuscript and saw exactly where I'd been headed, if only I'd known it. I finished the book in six months and it found a home with Doubleday.

By the time the book was released in 2003, we were living in Tacoma, Washington. It was well received, especially in the Pacific Northwest. I wrote Homesick Creek, my second novel, on the road between Bend and Tacoma while we made endless trips back and forth to find and ready a home there. We hop-scotched to Los Angeles briefly, where I worked on Hannah’s Dream, but returned to Bend long before its release in September 2, 2008. For the record, neither my Random House editor nor my agent were at all taken with Hannah’s Dream—Random House turned it down flat (in two separate drafts), and my agent suggested it might be best to shelve it. I stuck to my guns, moved to HarperCollins and, to my astonishment; the book has been a bestseller in the Pacific Northwest and is doing well elsewhere, too. I currently live in Bend with my husband Nolan, daughter Kerry, six very large cats and a Pembroke Welsh corgi named Petey.

Do you write daily? Alas, I still have a day job building websites for small businesses and non-profit organizations, so the majority of my workdays are devoted to my clients. However, I squeeze in writing or editing at some point nearly every day, usually in the early morning or after dinner. I’m currently racing against a mid-June deadline to complete my next book, so I’m definitely writing daily now, and will until that manuscript is resting in someone else’s capable hands.

What was it like getting your first novel published? Some of that story’s in Question #1 above but, briefly, the day I got my agent’s phone call saying that Random House would publish Going to Bend ranked right up there with getting married and giving birth to my daughter Kerry. It was the only real ambition I’ve ever had. Year after year, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I said, “A published novel under the tree.” And it finally came true. I’ve never been so proud of any other accomplishment.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? Given the current difficult state of the publishing industry, any technology that will convince people to read is a good thing. I can’t imagine giving up paper-and-ink books myself, since I’ve been associating safety and coziness with a book-in-hand for as long as I can remember, but I’ve got nothing against them.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Write without ceasing. Steal time from whatever you have to; it’s much too easy to blame over-commitment for robbing you of your dream to write.

What are you reading now? Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much is True

Favorite novels: What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller - Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - Good Family by Terry Gamble

Just for Fun:
Favorite Season: Fall
Morning or night: Used to be night; now it’s morning
Favorite ice cream flavor: Ben & Jerry’s Phish Phood
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: the UK; haven’t been yet.