Hannah’s Voice by Robb Grindstaff
Okay. Before I start this review, I have to first have a FanGirl moment. I have a lot of those, lately, but if you read this book, you’ll have Robb Grindstaff FanGirl/Boy moments, too.
Hannah’s Voice is a beautiful story, and I’m going to tell you about it, but before I do: seriously, you guys, read it. I’m not kidding. You’ll be changed forever, inside… it’s not a book with such strong thematic material that it will make anyone cringe, but it will be burned into your brain for eternity in such a delightful way. Touching, moving, funny, awesome. I can’t say it enough: this book is revolutionary, and the best thing I’ve read in years.
Okay, end FanGirl moment. On to the review.
I’ve known Robb Grindstaff on Facebook for a while now, so when I read Hannah’s Voice, I knew I’d love it. What I didn’t expect was how much I loved it, or how deeply it affected me, and how brilliant a writer it takes to write a novel featuring a main character with next to no dialogue.
Hannah’s Voice touches on a wide variety of subjects: it addresses the intensity to which religious fanatics take their beliefs, no matter how much or how little basis they have for those beliefs, and how some religious fanatics, in order to attain their goals, will interfere with the lives of those who don’t know how to speak against them. In Hannah’s Voice, the main character – who elects not to speak, thanks to the adults around her misinterpreting her words – is uprooted and pushed in and out of foster homes thanks to communication problems and situations beyond her control.
As Hannah enters adulthood, the religious fanatics of her childhood continue to harass her on both sides of the coin: one group says she’s a prophet, and the other, possessed by a demon. Hannah knows she’s neither, but as the groups begin to pull and pry at her, she finally speaks out, and demands the damn pancakes off the menu in a diner.
The amazing thing about this story is that though there is a hefty helping of symbolism and allegory, it is somewhat an allegory about allegory. Robb shows how those witnessing events can twist and misinterpret the things they encounter: speech, writing, or even silence, into their own definitions regardless of what the original source intended. All Hannah wanted was to be understood, and she ended up so misunderstood – to the point of danger to her life and the lives of her friends – thanks to those around her shoving opinions they thought she intended down everybody else’s throats.
It also serves as a good reminder for those of us who put our pens to page and mass-broadcast our opinions: to make sure we’re not trampling down those who do not have the ability to use such loud voices as we do. People listen and mobs form, so those who write – particularly about beliefs and other such sensitive topics – owe it to the world to be honest, but not overbearing. Concise, as Hannah is with her own written words, but not degrading in the process.
In the end, I was most deeply moved because when Hannah finally did demand the damn pancakes, I heard her voice more clearly than any character I’d ever read before. She spoke exactly as I expected she would, though she didn’t know if she could still speak after so many years of silence, and I rejoiced at her words. I knew her so well from only hearing her interpretation of the events around her, her purest voice, no carefully-crafted phrases to toss at friends and get her desired result… her honesty blew me away, and as a result, so did the entire book.
Hannah’s Voice will stay in my heart (and on my Kindle) forever. If you want to read a story about finding balance, knowing your voice, staying strong against all odds, and going with the flow, Hannah’s Voice is the book for you.
You can purchase Hannah’s Voice Here
……and please drop by Robb’s Facebook FanPage Here.
Also: Stalk him on Twitter @RobbWriter