Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book Review - Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived by Maria Housden

Title: Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived
Author: Maria Housden
Year: 2003 
Page: 240 
Genre: Non-Fiction

New to me author? Yes 
Read this author again? Maybe 
Tearjerker? Yes 
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from 
In Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived, Maria Housden delivers a lyrical, heartbreaking and heartwarming account of her three-year-old daughter's illness and death. Among the values she learns from her extraordinary child's experience are joy, a Buddha-like stillness, candor and openness. When Hannah's seven-year-old brother asks the author questions about death, Hannah is fascinated and declares that she wants to be a butterfly when her body dies. When their church has a special service to honor and pray for Hannah, she's delighted. Housden, too, offers readers a gift, particularly those seeking to help a loved one through the process of dying and themselves through the grieving process. 

First Sentence:
Looking back, I realize that my whole life pivots silently around this single moment: I was standing in a Stride-Rite children shoe store, wondering which pair of shoes to buy.
Why did I pick this book?
I don't remember how I come across this book, most likely by browsing through the library catalog? I know this is going to be a sad book, but I mentioned previously in My Reading Taste post - I also enjoy books that are inspiring, like The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow)

My thoughts:
  • This is a quick read. I enjoy the author's writing style. This is more like a collection of Hannah's stories (tidbits of her life) rather than one continuous story. Some of them were amusing, some showed little Hannah was wise beyond her years. I also really loved the stories between Hannah and her older brother, Will (who was still very young at the time). Such adorable children. Will was very protective of Hannah and was very insightful. Very mature as well. You could definitely tell the author loved her children and appreciate them
  •  There were some religious reference in the book, but it wasn't preachy. (I don't have a religion, so sometimes religious reference in a book could get a bit too preachy for me personally)
  • I wish there were pictures of the little girl! But I understood the family may want some privacy, but I think it may have been more powerful to put a face to the story. Now if I see red shoes I will think of Hannah
  • With fiction, I HATE to know the ending ahead of time. I want to be surprise. But before I read this book, I knew what the ending would be, and yet it was worthwhile to get to know Hannah
  • Actually the book didn't quite end where I thought it would. It went on a little bit longer about the author and her life after... those chapters were the ones I liked the least in the whole book - I guess the author wanted to share what lessons she took from Hannah and how they changed her life... but I felt it didn't quite fit with the rest of the book, and not as touching... and thus my 3.5 Stars instead of a higher rating.  I have read similar books before - the most recent being Note Left Behind back in January this year. Note Left Behind was a more emotional read for me, probably because it was based on a blog so the emotion may have been a bit more raw. Note Left Behind included pictures of Elena and I definitely still remember them.
  • The author had a 2nd book, not sure if I would read it yet or not. I looked at the description but it didn't really make me want to go out and get it - to elaborate would be spoilers though (part of it was revealed at the end of the first book also)
  • If I only learn one thing from the book, it was (as quoted below): Make the best decision you can with the information you have at that time.

    "Make the best decision you can with the information you have at that time." He leaned back and ran his fingers through his hair.
    "'At that time' is the critical part. You'll see what i mean. You can drive yourself crazy saying, "If only we had known this, if only we had known that.' The pint is, you didn't know, so just keep telling yourselves, 'We did the best we could with what we knew. We did the best we could with what we knew.'" (p30)

    Rating: 3.5 Stars

    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!

    100+ Reading
    Non-Fiction Five

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