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The Journey of Hannah Woods by Helene Forst

The Journey of Hannah WoodsThe Journey of Hannah Woods by Helene Forst
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so happy to receive this book from the author; what a compelling, satisfying read. Hannah Woods is the kind of protagonist the reader will enjoy getting to know. When we meet first meet her, she is inwardly freaking out at her father’s funeral. As a fourteen year old, Hannah lets the reader know she is suffering from panic attacks, hears voices cruelly putting her down, and relies heavily on drugs. After the funeral, this Hannah will leave the only home she has ever known and go to live with grandparents she didn’t realize she had. It is in this “new” home with down-to- earth grandparents, and a very strong, knowledgeable network of doctors where Hannah begins her epic journey. We learn from Hannah that she did not have a loving father or mother (they were very neglectful), was constantly under the care of nannies, home-schooled by tutors, and had only one person she could count on as a child, the head housekeeper, Winnie. Nothing was normal in her life; Hannah grew up alone, afraid, and always anxious. What I really loved about Hannah as I read this book was her positive attitude. She may have been terrified, but she did not give up hope. On the cusp of adolescence, she must attend high school, participate in class, and meet friends while she withdraws from heavy duty drugs and lives a normal life. It is this Hannah who learns how to surf, play volleyball, ice skate, become active in a Save the Earth Club, and begin to heal, express herself (through poetry) and learn how to savor life and love. I enjoyed the authentic characters Forst provides in Hannah’s loving, working grandparents, high school friends Emma and Eli, and remarkable Drs. Weinstein and Hope. This book was a journey for the reader and Hannah, and one I am very happy I made. As Hannah explores her new life in Crystal Cove, the reader is learning what it is like to have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, fears, and anxieties. The reader roots for Hannah as she fights valiantly to control her life without drugs and learns to welcome the real Hannah Woods, “perfectly balanced” and “courageously dreaming.”

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