Monday, January 16, 2012

What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas

Book Description:
As a teenager, Hannah Benson ran away from home in order to save herself. Now, twenty years later, the past comes calling and delivers life-changing news: her mother and sister have passed away, leaving Hannah the guardian of her fifteen-year-old niece.

Returning home to bitter memories and devastating secrets, Hannah must overcome her painful past to pave a future with her niece, the last best chance at a family for both of them. She begins to create a new, happier life with her niece and rekindles a relationship with Grady Steadman, one of the few people she’s ever called a friend.

But she can’t forget what she cannot forgive, or lay to rest those ghosts that will not die. Will love and trust—and the truth—give her the strength to stand her ground and fight for what she deserves?

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book which managed to stay realistic and engaging while dealing with a complicated and potentially far-fetched plot. Out of the blue Hannah gets a call from Grady (her high-school sweetheart turned town sherriff) calling her back to the town she ran away from when she was seventeen years old. Her mother and sister are dead, and she has a teenage niece who needs a guardian now that the rest of her family is gone. The book tells the story of Hannah's return to her hometown and the house she grew up in, and also slowly reveals the story of her childhood and the eventful night when she finally escaped.

The book was excellent- in fact I would have given it 5 stars if not for the way the relationship between Grady and Hannah develops (no spoilers but I didn't like the power play he made or her response to it). Hannah herself is a well-drawn character who carries the novel, though her niece Anna is a quiet rock who helps anchor the story. It is impossible not to feel for these two girls forced to adapt to the realities of a life no one would choose; watching their relationship develop is the best part of the book.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Find Me by Carol O'Connell

Book Description:
On Route 66, as word travels that children's grave sites are being discovered along the road, the parents of missing children form a silent caravan. They are being shepherded by NYPD Detective Kathleen Mallory, who seeks a killer like none she has ever known-and a child unlike the others: herself.

I've been working my way through the entire Kathy Mallory series after a recommendation here on LT, and have to admit that I enjoy them because the characters are so interesting; the mysteries to me are secondary. That said, I am getting a little tired of stories that open somewhere in the middle with characters gradually dropping details throughout the book to flesh out the essential background- it is very frustrating feeling like everyone else knows something you don't (and I don't mean in terms of the clues to solve the mystery, I mean like why Mallory is on Route 66 in a new car being tracked by her partner in the opening paragraphs). Perhaps if I wasn't reading them all so close together, this annoying characteristic of these novels wouldn't be so obvious, but I am so it is.

Still, this is a complex and layered mystery that reveals a lot of interesting details about Mallory's past that help inform her current behaviors, and hold out a hope that there might be shifts coming in her psyche as some old wounds are healed. In the end, I was satisfied with the story and the character development, but all through the read, I was battling irritation at the piecemeal revelation of crucial facts. 3.5 stars.