Hanna Who Fell from the Sky
by Christopher Meades
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Park Row Books
From highly acclaimed, award-winning author Christopher Meades comes a magical, provocative tale of forbidden love and one girl’s struggle for liberation
Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.
But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets Daniel, an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. Then her mother tells her a secret—one that could grant Hanna the freedom she’s known only in her dreams. As her world unravels around her, Hanna must decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she’s ever known? Or is there another option—one too fantastical to believe?
With lush, evocative prose, Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.
“Beautiful and delicate, Meades has written a powerful meditation on how we define ourselves, the gift and cruelty of faith, and the redemptive act of storytelling. A gorgeous blend of dreamy folklore and gritty reality.” -Erika Swyler, bestselling author of The Book of Speculation
“A strange and beautiful fable with shades of Deliverance, Room, and Winter’s Bone.” -Laline Paull, award-winning author of The Bees
“As she slashes through the mythology that restrains her, Hanna rises like a phoenix. Christopher Meades weaves a feast of paradox and surprise.” -Benjamin Ludwig, author of Ginny Moon
“Compelling and provocative, Meades weaves elements of magical realism into his poignant coming-of-age tale. In Hanna, readers will find a new heroine, one who uncovers the secrets of her repressive society as she journeys toward self-discovery.” -Paula Treick DeBoard, author of The Drowning Girls
“With original characters and graceful prose, Christopher Meades has created an indelible novel about faith, family and love. Your heart will soar and ache for Hanna on her thoroughly original coming-of-age journey.” -Kelly Simmons, author of The Fifth of July
Paul the Third, was chubby and balding, like an off-kilter teapot always in danger of tipping over. Paul the Third wore a mustache that Charliss described as “four parts pubic hair and three parts bacon grease” and he perspired constantly.
Hanna had felt like a rubber band stretched to the point of breaking, pulled so tight that its color had all but disappeared. Hanna had spent so very long worried about what others thought, about the consequences for the slightest misbehavior, that she hadn’t stopped to think about what she wanted, what was right for her.
Someone once told me that fear only subsides when joy is so powerful that you refuse to be afraid.
The Creator forbids women from wearing red… Brother Paul says it’s the color harlots wear in the big city… And it’s not that I was born desperately wanting to wear a red dress. But it’s strange— when something’s taken away from you, you just want it so badly.
He gritted his teeth. Hanna counted two at the top and a throng of incisors at the bottom, by turns black and yellow, like a decomposing ear of corn.
I was enthralled, flabbergasted, and awestruck by the superlative quality and artifice in Christopher Meades’s writing. His word-craft and storyline were diabolically ingenious and to my complete wonderment, held me captive despite my typical avoidance of this type of subject matter. I was riveted to my Kindle while also deeply conflicted and frustrated by the compelling characters and the harsh predicaments they had either been forced into, placed themselves in, or were maintaining by their complicity. Chaffing at the hypocrisy, cruelty, and abuse of power by the arrogant men under the guise of religion as well as the pettiness and stupidity of the women who allowed not only themselves to be used and abused, but to extend that learned helplessness to their children; I couldn’t decide whom I despised more. However, I intensely reviled Hanna’s repulsive father, who was a despicable, loathsome, and abusive alcoholic as well as an irresponsible polygamist.
Although a bit forlorn and heavily conflicted, I was utterly consumed by Mr. Meades’s masterful phrasing, vivid descriptions, thoughtful emotive details, and razor-sharp insights. There was a smooth fluidity to his narrative that kept a movie reel steadily rolling through my cranium. In retrospect, what is even more astonishing was his ability to so deftly and accurately depict the inner musings, hopes, turmoil, and confusion of a loyal and sheltered eighteen-year-old girl as she gradually gained awareness of her own naiveté and the purposeful manipulations that had been used to maintain her ignorance and life of poverty.
Mr. Meades’s well-crafted storyline was simply gripping and kept me invested, engaged, and twisted in knots while fervently hoping for the main character of Hanna, and her mother, to find their spines as well as their footing and flee the tyranny of that harsh and backward community. I experienced a steadily mounting sense of foreboding knowing the pressure was building toward the climax and found myself taut with tension and a death grip on my Kindle, and decidedly unwilling to put it down to do the regularly scheduled adulting for the day. It was worth the book hangover and displeased grumbling of family members. Mr. Meades has a new fangirl – I greedily want all his words. I was provided with a review copy of this compelling book by TLC Book Tours.
Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including THE LAST HICCUP, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead. He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.
Connect with Christopher