Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas

Reader Friends, you know I like the whole family drama trope, and I especially love the small-town-family-drama trope, so this one seemed like a natural for me to read.  It's about Hannah who runs away from home as a teenager to escape an abusive family.  Fifteen years later, she receives a call from the boyfriend she left behind who is now the sheriff.  He tells her that her mother has died, leaving an orphaned niece who is counting on Hannah to take custody and keep her out of the foster care system.  Hannah has to return to the small town and face her family secrets as well as her unresolved feelings for the sheriff.

I hate to have to say it, but the writing was just abysmal.  The dialogue (and Hannah's internal dialogue in particular) was just completely unbelievable.  It was trite and sappy and stilted.  Not at all what I was expecting, even from fairly straight up women's lit.  It read like a bad romance novel, which, I suppose, is exactly what it was, although it was really trying to be more on the women's lit side of things.  The characters were all static and one dimensional and the foreshadowing was so heavy that the big "secret" was blatantly obvious from the beginning of the book, as was the resolution.  I was also really annoyed by some major editing errors, like the appearance of a church "Alter Society" rather than "Altar Society". 

Entertainment Value
This is one of the books that fully illustrates why I have a two part rating system.  The writing was indeed terrible, but I still couldn't put the book down.  I knew what the secret was, but I still wanted to finish the book and find the resolution that I saw coming a million miles away.  It was a good, mind-numbing beach read - the plot was intriguing enough to keep me interested and the writing was poor enough that I didn't have to expend much brain power.  I also read a good bit in the car on the way home from Savannah and it made for a good road trip book too.  I can't say I really cared deeply about the characters, who were all pretty stock, but the plot was decently paced and kept my interest for the most part and it didn't require much concentration.

I can't really say I recommend this one because the writing was just not that good.  I'd say if you're on vacation and this is on the shelf in the beach house you're staying at and you have nothing else to read, it's worth picking up.  Otherwise, you can probably do better with some Jodi Picoult or Anna Quindlen.

Thank you to TLC for sending me the book for review and feel free to click here and see the rest of the reviewers on the tour!

Also, click here for information on Book Club Girl's live interview with the author on Wednesday, March 14th, at 7 PM.  


  1. I've been reading mixed reviews about this one. I would probably get frustrated with the writing on this one!

    1. I found myself pretty frustrated with the writing, but check out the other TLC reviews - several of them have been really positive!

  2. Thanks again for your honest assessment. I appreciate your work on reviews. It is a gift to your readers. My books this week have been The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene and How to Save a Life by Sarah Zarr. I think they might both be YA books. I didn't expect to love either of them but I was won over. Charmed.
    Kim D from SC

    1. Thank you Kim! What a sweet comment - it really means a lot to me to hear from readers who are enjoying my reviews!

  3. I like the idea of your two part rating system - it definitely makes sense.

    Thanks for sharing your thought on this one for the tour. I'm glad you found the story intriguing even if you didn't love the writing.

  4. I like the two part rating system too! Really illustrates the different aspects to a book that come into play when you're reading it.