Title: Hanna Who Fell from the Sky by Christopher Meades
Publisher: Park Row Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Magical Realism
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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 an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. And when her mother reveals a secret—one that could grant her the freedom she’s known only in her dreams—Hanna is forced to 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, award-winning author 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.
With a slight element of magical realism, Hanna Who Fell from the Sky by Christopher Meades is a clever coming of age novel about a teenager who is on the cusp of becoming a much older man’s fifth wife.
Hanna and her family are part of a polygamist community that feels more like a cult than a true religious society. One of their practices is to send the young men off to live on their own while the young women are expected to marry the much older men in the congregation. Keeping with tradition, one week before her eighteenth birthday, Hanna is betrothed to her father’s friend Edwin. At first resigned to her fate to become the older man’s fifth wife, Hanna begins to harbor reservations about her upcoming nuptials after meeting Daniel Rossiter. Daniel and his family have just returned from a trip outside their enclave and Hanna is captivated by his stories of life away from their town of Clearhaven. With her wedding day fast approaching, Hanna’s mother Kara urges her daughter to leave town but Hanna is conflicted about leaving her younger siblings behind with their drunken, abusive father.
While Hanna is quite dedicated to all of her younger siblings, she is most committed to caring for her sister Emily. With a severe curvature to her spine, Emily’s mobility is extremely limited and Hanna devotes herself to helping her sister navigate through her daily tasks. An obedient daughter, she never questions her role in the religious community which gives women very little power over their own lives. After an enlightening discussion with one of her prospective groom’s wives, doubts about her upcoming wedding begin to creep in. These misgivings leave her questioning many of the teachings of their religion. After Kara confides the truth about her daughter’s origins, Hanna becomes even more convinced that her future might not lie within the confines of Clearhaven. However, Hanna is conflicted as she tries to decide whether or not her duty to her family carries more weight than her desire to do what is best for her.
Hanna Who Fell from the Sky is a riveting young adult novel with a wonderfully interwoven element of magical realism. With Hanna’s fate cleverly concealed until the novel’s exciting conclusion, the story moves at blistering pace. An interesting and thought-provoking American debut by Christopher Meades that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend to adults and older teens.