Hannah’s List by Debbie Macomber

Michael Everett is grieving the loss of his wife Hannah, whose death from Stage 4 ovarian cancer destroyed the foundation of his life and the plans made of happily ever after for himself and his wife.  Knowing that he would wallow and resist moving on after her death, Hannah entrusts her brother Richard with a letter to be delivered to Michael on the first anniversary of her death.  In her letter Hannah expresses how happy she would be if Michael were able to find someone else with whom to share and live a full life. She wants him to remarry.

Knowing her husband as she does, Hannah doesn’t trust him to do this on his own.  She makes it as easy as possible for him to abide  by her wishes when she  provides him with a list of three women, each of whom she thinks would make a suitable wife.  There was something about the premise of this book that I found intriguing.  I hadn’t seen this particular take on moving on after the death of a loved one, and I was curious because I wanted to see whom the widower would meet, how he would go about dating and whom his choice would be in the end. Reading Hannah’s List, was like watching a Lifetime movie.  (I should know because I have watched quite a few of these movies with my mom, and she will indeed probably be the recipient of my copy of Hannah’s List.) There is a certain type of nostalgia that I experienced reading this because it reminds me of being home from college and relaxing with my mom in front of the tv, one Lifetime movie inevitably leading to the next before you look up and realize that you have spent the whole day watching those movies.  You know exactly what to expect, the characters that you will meet, and with whom they will end up.  You know that they will somehow mess it up and that they will somehow find their way back together again – and somehow, that’s okay.  There is a certain comfort in that, and that is what this book had. This was an easy read that tackled the issues of love, loss, and rebuilding life in a very straightforward manner.  The women in the novel seemed to be more fully realized than I found the character of Michael.  Grief  may have stricken the joy from his life and the character from his personality, and that could be why he was so blah all the time, but I enjoyed the stories of Leanne, Winter and Macy. All of the women have past entanglements that are preventing them from moving on fully to new relationships, and they were frustrating in the fact that they immediately ran off to tell their exes that there was a new man in their life.  I’m not exactly sure what they thought would be accomplished by that strategy, but there you go. Macomber covers a wide variety of issues from coping with the loss of a spouse, our expectations of the grieving process of others, and the detrimental effects of the lack of trust and communication within a relationship.  She often makes wise observations through the characters about their own and others’ behavior, and while most times I wished for more depth to the story and for Michael to be more of a dynamic character, this just isn’t that type of book.  I did read Hannah’s List in little more than a day and found the book to be entertaining and light.  This is a comfort read, and there are no surprises.  If you are looking for something deeper – move right along, but if you sometimes have a bit of a sweet tooth when it comes to books, or like me have that leftover Lifetime movie habit that you just can’t shake, you might want to consider this for a treat.

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