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This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

Hannah's Dream: Discussion begins today

Originally posted in the Big Tent.... view comments for full conversation.

Today we start discussing ‘Hannah’s Dream’. I encourage everyone to visit the MMBC Blog to read the Q&A with Diane Hammond. Her answers may spark a discussion topic for you, or maybe another question to ask everyone. This dialog is meant to be a discussion between friends – Let’s keep the discussion casual and hopefully we learning something new about each other along the way.

A few of the questions below were sent to me from other readers, thank you for your questions! Some were taken from the author’s website.

Feel free to answer any all of the questions below:

What was your overall view of the book? Did you enjoy it?

Did you have a favorite character (include why you liked the character)?

Did you have a favorite part in the book?

Harriet Saul is initially portrayed as the villain in Hannah’s Dream, but does she deserve it?

Did she change over the course of the book, and if so, how? Why?

What’s the deal with Johnson Johnson? Is he a savant, a fool, or a genius?

Sam and Corinna treat Hannah as the reincarnation of their stillborn daughter. Do they mean this literally or figuratively?

Will Sam and Corinna ever travel to the Pachyderm Sanctuary to visit Hannah?


  1. I will start the conversation by answering a few questions now and will comment during our conversation.

    I really enjoyed this book and felt an attachment to Hannah. I found myself a bit emotional while reading about Hannah’s living conditions. Having dogs I know all animals have personalities and I felt Hannah’s personality jumped off the page.

    I adored Sam’s relationship with Hannah and Corinna’s motherly relationship with Sam and Hannah.

    Although I didn’t have a favorite character, I was always happy to read about Hannah, Sam, Corinna and Neva. My connection was the strongest to these four characters.

  2. I enjoyed this book. The relationship between Sam, Hannah and Corrina seemed very special. My first impression of Harriett Saul wasn't positive especially when she started protraying Maxine. I thought maybe she was losing her mind. When I read of her childhood, I had more empathy for her, and obviously her idea of protraying Maxine was a marketing success until she got a little too power hungry. I expected her to put up a legal fight to keep Hannah at the zoo. I wondered whether or not the zoo survived without Hannah and whether or not Sam and Corrina ever visited Hannah at the santuary.


  3. Harriet was a little 'creepy' when she first transformed into Max - I was saddened to read about her relationship with her mother (and the lack of love). She was an interested character in the book - we could have a discussion solely about Harriet!

  4. One of the things I've found interesting as I read this book was that Hammond has thrown in a lot of characters and a lot of problems for them and it works. I never caught myself thinking that it was ridiculous that there was so much drama in each of the character's lives. Only a well-written book can pull this off.

  5. I forgot to ask the author about the book cover (the little girl). I think I know why the girl is on the cover but I'm interested in knowing the story behind the cover.

  6. I enjoyed this book! I'll admit I was a bit wary when I read the background on the author being a "save the whales" type and thought it might be preachy about zoos. But it was a really nice, well developed story.

    My favorite character was Sam. What a sweet man, he had so much love to give. I wonder what he would have done without Hannah? I didn't pick up on the racial issues until part way through the book, don't know if I missed that or is was just subtle. I also liked they guy and his son (sorry the name escapes me), the stuff with the pig cracked me up.

    I thought Johnson Johnson was creepy, I kept waiting for something bad to happen with him. Don't really know what he added to the story, except the cool drums. Harriet was an odd duck, kind of felt sorry for her.

    And I don't think they will ever visit the elephant sanctuary. It's easier to imagine her happy in a good place, it would be sad to everyone to visit and have to leave her again. And imagine if she was not doing well, they would feel so guilty.

    Thanks for the good pick Mari!


  7. Sam did specifically ask Max about reincarnation and Buddha and I took, from that conversation, the definite impression that Sam and Corinna believed that Hannah was the reincarnation of their daughter. I think that's what made Sam so exceptionally attached to Hannah.


  8. I liked this book because I felt the characters were real, well rounded, even Hannah. Harriet was a real, conflicted person, and I felt many of her decisions/actions made sense when viewed from her history, and motivations. She appeared shallow and power hungry but was really insecure, and a good person in my opinion, as shown by her willingness to let Hannah go when she really understood the situation, and desire to transform the zoo into Max's historical landmark after Hannah left. I thought the character portrayals were complex, Corrina struggles with religion, Sam found peace within himself thru acceptance of whatever life throws at you and reincarnation, Max struggles with loss of parental and self love etc.

    Lisa D

  9. Oops...I meant Harriett struggles with loss of parental and self love, and Neva had built a wall around herself and was wary of letting love in after being hurt, but was able to be vulnerable as the story progressed...

    Lisa D

  10. I liked this book a lot. I am on vacation so I was able to read it in two days. Sam was my favorite character. I really liked that the race issues were not clearly spelled out in the beginning but were quietly unfolded as the book went along. Harriet reminded me of someone I work with, it was very interesting to read about the issues that lead Harriet to her current state of mind. I also enjoyed how the relationship between Max and her companion was laid out in a more subtle fashion than it could have been. No, I don't think Sam ever visited Hannah. But I bet he continued to have the dream.

    Jill S

  11. Oops! I read the August book first. Good thing I am going on vacation Monday. Hopefully I can jump in later in the discussion. Sounds like a good read.

  12. I finally finished the book this morning. I too was worried that the book would be preachy but it wasn't. It came across very honest and sincere.

    I was glad to see Truman come out of his shell and stand up for himself and Hannah. I enjoyed watching how his relationship with Neva unfolded. Both were wounded but were able to help pull each other out of themselves.

    Another relationship I enjoyed watching develop was between Sam and Reginald. I imagine Sam spent his retirement being the positive male figure Reginald needed in his life.


  13. I enjoyed not liking Harriett Saul. I appreciated her past and the pain she suffered, and life is choice. Saul chose to pass on the unpleasantness and pain she was dealt, instead of becoming better from her circumstance, but remaining bitter. Becoming Maxine was completely creepy and unhealthy, stealing positive attributes from her imaginings of a dead woman, instead of her own accomplishment. I did feel for her, but any time someone is the cause of, or contributes to pain of another, it counter balances my potential empathy for them. I look at the real evil, like hurting Hannah, and chose that worth and importance, over empathy at a ill-spun older woman whose need for control and attention is mystified in childhood issues being played out at the cost of others.

    I have to say on page 294, when Saul gives in to the plan, after her drinking binge and loss for anything else to do, I was surprised, and pleasantly disappointed. "Pleasantly" because I did not have to "feel" any more conflict with her, and "disappointed" because I wanted to continue to dislike her. She did save herself a bit at the end, even if it was due to being caught in a catch 22 and her need for praise, accomplishment and glory. It was a bit anti-climatic, but right after i read it, I thought very real, very human nature. I think I am so conditioned by "Terminator" endings, faux endings and the like, I expected more of a fight or second, third or fourth "surprise" resurrection.

    I would recommend this book as a light, enjoyable, human interest read. I attribute most of the book's interest to Hammond's character development and the likability, and quirkiness, of the character's she invented.

    Thank you so much Mari for leading us on this journey! I appreciate it and you!!

    Looking forward to reading more entries and the next book!


  14. I got caught up in an unexpected work deadline midway through the book so I had to put it down for a while and just finished it last night. I was glad it was one that I could easily pick up where I left off.

    Overall I enjoyed the book. I found it to be an interesting read and a very loving story between Sam, Corrina and Hannah. I really liked Corrina's character and felt that the support she had for her husband was incredible.

    Obviously it was much deeper than supporting him in his "job." I really liked the parts about all of them spending evenings with Hannah watching movies, the Thanksgiving part and other "family" inclusive times. You could feel the love through the authors writing. I do think that Sam and Corrina really believed Hannah was the reincarnation of their daughter and I was glad that they did because it seemed to help heal them all and provide for Hannah as if she was a human being, their daughter. I was really hoping that they wouldn't have to part with their life savings as they said they would without hesitation. I don't think they did.

    Harriet was one of those people that was really easy to dislike. However, as many of you have already mentioned, I agree, I did have some sympathy for her after reading about her childhood. How awful. I was very glad that she did not create a huge legal mess over letting Hannah go. I thought Truman's dad. . .blanking on his name. . .and his wife handled it beautifully with the reporter.
    I don't think Sam and Corrina will go visit Hannah. I think they are all at peace now and happy to remember all their fond memories of each other.

    Hannah included. I was really pleased with how the book ended. I am a sucker for happy endings and would have been crushed if Hannah had died or if her living conditions had worsened.
    Johnson Johnson---what a name, that was a crack-up. I agree, I thought he was odd and kept waiting for something to happen to Neva. I thought he was creepy. . .glad he turned out to be OK and just a bit odd.


  15. I can totally relate to what Kristie said about how the write up about the book didn't draw me in. But being the "good girl" I am I follow directions well and read it for this group. Thank god I did. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and most of the characters in it... I agree I didn't like the person Harriet was but I liked the character. It was interesting to see what made her tick... it seemed to be all about power, recognition and control and not really about the money.

    The person I thought was the most destructive was Truman's ex-wife Rhonda.
    I hated how she treated her family especially her son Winslow.

    I found it interesting that it was the animals who were the catalysts in everyone's relationships... they were the objects and givers of unconditional love that seemed to help those who were hurting most, love and live again.

    I liked the fact that the "elders" in this story, Sam, Corinne, Truman's mom and Dad, and even Max, were heroes deserving of their status. They were all small voices, who in their own quiet way affected huge changes in their surroundings and those around them. All seemed to "fight for right and for the little guy" and win, in all senses of the word.

    Both Sam and Max were in categories of people who have been marginalized, shunned and hated throughout the years, but both stayed the course and remained loving and kind and didn't let society beat them down. They both got what they truly wanted in the end. I wonder if these attitudes were what made Harriett and Rhonda (Truman's ex-wife) seem so bitter, and selfish.


  16. I posted my review of the book here:

  17. I really liked this book but when I got all done I wondered why Johnson Johnson was even in the book. He obviously had a thing for Neva but that wasn't going anywhere. He turned out to be a potential source of income for Hannah's sanctuary fund but that could have been found some other way and it wasn't even used.