I was an English major in college, but not one of those high-falutin’ intellectuals looking for symbolism and political subcontexts on every page. I liked to read. I liked to write, so I majored in English and did a good bit of each in college.
I like books about people. No, not biographies, but books that invite his into the lives and hearts of people — ordinary or extraordinary. I’m drawn to stories — to characters — to themes of friendship, personal growth, internal or external struggles. I know that’s why memoir has quickly become my favorite genre. I enjoy a great character-driven novel in the same way (if not more).
Hannah’s Dream by Diane Hammond is this sort of novel. Hammond delicately deals with the human experiences of love, lack of love, loss, hope, duty, growing up and growing old.
And when I this is a character-driven novel, let me go one step further and say that this book is full of characters — Max Biedelman, a sort of androgynous woman who lived in the early twentieth century; Harriet, the director of the zoo which Max founded, who taps into the confidence and spirit of Max as she tries to find acceptance for herself and financial success for the zoo; Sam Brown, a man who has given his life and his heart to two women, his wife Corinna and the elephant Hannah.
Sam has spent the last forty-one years of life caring for Hannah, at the dying wish of Max Biedelman, but he is old and sick and needs to retire. He just can’t do it until he finds someone who will properly care for Hannah as he has done. Will that person be Neva, the new elephant keeper that Harriet has hired? None of the others have worked out, but Sam sees signs in the beginning that she just may be different.
This book reminded me a bit of another book dealing with an elephant (Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which I enjoyed), and also Life of Pi, which delved a bit into the debates about zookeeping. However, this novel is not the result of an author trying to jump on the bandwagon of the popularity of books about animals (Marley and Me also comes to mind, though I haven’t read that one).
No, no, Diane Hammond has her own reasons for telling this story. Tomorrow in our Books on Screen column, the author will be writing about her work with the real whale upon whom the movie Free Willy was based and how it helped birth this novel (updated: here is a link to that column).
I loved this story, and if you enjoy stories such as I’ve described, I think you’ll enjoy it too.
We have three signed copies of Hannah’s Dream to give away. Please leave a comment if you’d like to win (U.S. addresses only), and we’ll announce the winners next Wednesday.
This giveaway is closed.
Managing Editor Jennifer Donovan is a contributing editor at 5 Minutes for Mom. She has been blogging at Snapshot for over two years. You’ll almost always find her holding either a book, a fork, a child’s hand, her laptop, or some combination therein.
I would love to win this book!
Nice! Thanks for the opportunity!!!
theodore esteghamat says
sounds like a good read.
Alecia Gibson says
I’d like to win. Thanks for the giveaway!!
Mya Brooks says
I want this sooooo bad!
Please enter me in this giveaway 😉
Becky Grayson says
Please enter me into this giveaway. I would love to read this book. Thank you.
christopher h says
love to read this
This sounds like a good book, I would love to read it!
Thanks for the chance!
Chas Childress says
This book will get me reading again and more.
Tamara Merritt says
Thanks for the chance to win!
Jeanine Price says
Nice prize! I would love to win! Thanks so much for the giveaway!
Veronica Garrett says
Sounds like a great book. Enter my name in the contest.
Andrea R. says
I love heart warming animal themed books! This would be a great win!
kathleen Yohanna says
You convinced me in your review and I love elephants. Please enter me.
Dawn Fiske says
Throw my name out there for this one.
Freddie Noah says
Would love to win for grandkids
I think I would enjoy this book. Thanks for the chance to win it.:)
Timothy Sternberg says
This sounds like something I would enjoy reading.
CHERYL A FRANCISCO says
Commenting for entry please 🙂
Stacie R. says
Sounds like a great read. Thanks!
Kayce C says
count me in!
Kasey P says
This sounds like a very touching and fascinating story.
Betty C says
The review was great. If I don’t win I will have to get my hands on this book some way.
Suzanne G. says
I would love to win, this book sounds fantastic! Definitely count me in! Thanks!
Angie P says
I’d love to win this. It sounds like a wonderful read~thank you!
Donna L. says
This would be great to read!
Kathy Conley says
I would love to read this one!
Thanks for the chance.
sounds like a fab book, thanks for contest
I would really like to try this one
Sounds like a great story would love to read it. 🙂
Jared Bennett says
Opal Baker says
This sounds like a good book.Look forward to reading it.
I am interested in this book – thanks for this opportunity to read it!
Brenda S. says
Sounds great! Count me in.
Amanda Caruthers says
Enter me please!