Author: Mary Kay McComas
Publisher: William Morrow
About the Book: 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?
My thoughts: It was twenty years before Hannah had a reason to return to her hometown, and she didn't think she would ever have a reason good enough to return to that place. When Grady calls her to let her know that she is the guardian of her niece, Anna, she reluctantly agrees to go back. Though she tells Grady that she doesn't think this will work out, beneath the surface, she is excited by the fact that she might actually have a chance to be a family.
She let everybody think that she had probably been killed twenty years before, including Grady, whom was the only boy she had ever trusted or loved. He knew more about her that anyone else in town, but there was a side she had kept hidden even from him. When she does the unthinkable, she leaves town, believing it is her only option.
She was lucky enough to be taken in by a kind man who gave her a job and eventually taught her the business, a business that she now owns. Grady has known for a few years that she was alive, and where she was, and had even considered calling her a few times. Now he didn't have a choice and wishes that he could reconnect with her under better circumstances. He still doesn't know what caused her to leave that night without even telling him goodbye.
It didn't take long for Hannah to fall in love with Anna, and it surprised even her the depth that her feelings where able to go. As she learns more about Anna, she also learns how her mom was able to survive after she left town, and that maybe Hannah's final act there is what gave her mom the ability to survive and change after she was gone. She was finally able to begin to shed some of the fears and resentments that she had harbored for twenty years and with the shedding of the past, finally able to dream some new dreams.
I really liked Hannah - how she was so tough to the outside world, while she was really yearning for acceptance and love. It didn't take much for her to open up and let someone else in. The author did a great job in revealing the story slowly. As Hannah begins to clean out her childhood home, and it starts to see new light and life - so does Hannah. It was a nice correlation between the physical and the mental "housecleaning" that needed to be done to allow Hannah to finally move on.
The back story here is one of child abuse, which can be disturbing at times. I found it shameful that an entire community most likely knew what was going on and turned a blind eye so as to not have to deal with Hannah's family. Makes me wonder how many children in my life might be suffering from a similar situation and what I would do if I knew. I most highly recommend this book.
~I received a complimentary copy from William Morrow in exchange for my review.~
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow, Feb 2012
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