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Into the Closet: Cross-Dressing and the Gendered Body in Childrens Literature and Film (Children's Literature and Culture)
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Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived

Hannah's Gift - Maria Housden Hannah's Gift is the story of the last year in the life of Hannah Martell, a 3-year-old girl diagnosed with an aggressive, rare cancer, as told by her mother, Maria.

This is actually the second time I've read this book. I read it a long time ago in my pre-Goodreads era and, for some reason, I've been thinking about it a lot recently due to events in my personal life. I finally gave in and began to read it again.

With this kind of book, you know the end going in. You know that Hannah is going to die, you know that you will cry and that it'll break your heart and make you question why on earth this sort of thing happens. It'd be very easy to give a story that touches you in this way five stars, simply because it has touched you. Because it is heartbreaking and the suffering this child has gone through surely deserves five stars. Surely?

As you can see, I gave this book three stars. I liked it (though 'like' is perhaps the wrong word). I cried. It touched me enough that the book nagged at me for days until I picked it up yesterday. Not a lot of books do that.

There is some beautiful use of language throughout the novel, but somehow it seems out of place. It's a very real, very raw story, and I'm not sure that the beautiful language adds to that. I perhaps would have preferred more concise prose, but perhaps veiling the story in lyrical language made it easier for the author to write.

This story is made up of snapshots, really. Memories from the last year of Hannah's life. For that reason, sometimes the chronology can be hard to follow. I don't think a more linear narrative would have worked, perhaps, but some sense of how big the time jumps were between each section would have been nice.

I also didn't care for the strong religious tone of the book, but that's personal preference and undoubtably won't be a problem for everyone. It does get quite preachy in places though, and I don't like that at all.

All in all, this is a heart breaking read; it's just buried in unnecessary lyrical prose and preachiness. I do recommend you read it, though - Hannah's story deserves to be read.