*I received a free copy of Half Past from Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone
Published by Lake Union Publishing on 19 September 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
At forty-five, Hannah Smith is at a crossroads. That’s her spin on it. The reality is she’s divorced, jobless, and moving back to her family home in Iowa to keep an eye on her mother, who’s slipping into dementia. Her return stirs up the same unnerving sense of disconnect Hannah has felt since childhood—always the odd girl out, the loner outshone by her two older sisters. Hannah knew the feelings of hurt would come back. But she never expected fear. Because when her mother looks into her eyes and whispers, “You’re not my daughter,” Hannah is beginning to believe it’s not just the rambling of a confused woman.
It’s the truth.
Now Hannah’s following the trail of a family mystery to the dark coast of Big Sur, where years ago a lie was born—and buried. As frightened as she is to unearth it, Hannah knows this is the last chance she has before her past—and all its terrible secrets—are lost forever.
Half Past is a story of resilience and hope, of finding oneself during a midlife crisis, and coming out on the other side ever stronger.
Hannah was able to carry Half Past on her own, even if she needed other people in her quest for the truth, she was self-sufficient, and stronger than she thought. I felt like someone hit me at the very beginning of the story, because even if her mother was suffering from dementia, what she said to Hannah has to have hurt. A lot. And then, when her two older sisters arrived, they weren’t exactly understanding of her predicament.
After Hannah found out her mother wasn’t her biological mother, even if her name was on Hannah’s birth certificate, Hannah had to leave. Half Past follows Hannah across states, towards both her past and possibly a new future. Digging around in both her own and her parents’ past did not endear her to anyone – not to her sisters, and not to the locals in California.
Half Past is a great title, because it goes well with the story on more than one level. One could argue that Hannah has arrived to the middle of her life, and is, thus, herself half past. One could also see half past to mean a glass half full, and even in the face of a lot of difficult situations, Hannah was positive more often than not.
In a way, Half Past is also a book about mourning. I think Hannah started mourning her mother as soon as she got diagnosed with dementia. And with the news that her mother wasn’t her mother, she got a second layer added on to that grief. Stone did a fantastic job of portraying a woman who has seemingly lost all – but who still has the strength to shoulder the pain for the people she cares for, shielding them from things they might not recover from.
Hannah felt like her whole life was unraveling before her eyes. Slipping through her hands like sand. And the only way she found to deal with it all was to run across the country to find out what was hidden in her parents’ past.
Rachel is Hannah’s oldest sister, and she had it all together. At least on the surface. Even if she was not exactly open to what Hannah felt she had to do.
Becky is Hannah’s other sister, and while she’s more sympathetic to Hannah’s feelings, she doesn’t fully understand her.
Writing style :
Half Past is written in third person point of view, past tense, and from Hannah’s perspective. Even if Hannah’s story was very different from my own, I felt connected to her, and completely understood why she was so discombobulated.
I felt both the heartache and the pain Hannah felt. But I also really felt the hope. Hannah was the kind of character that is able to deal with all the hardships life can bring on.
Sucking a deep breath of clean, disinfectant-free air into her lungs, she fled to her car. The feeling was terrible on every level. She shouldn’t want to run from her mother. The woman was sick. Dying. And losing everything bit by bit as she did it. That was true suffering. Hannah’s frustration didn’t even qualify as a hangnail in the face of her mom’s slow, steady decline.
Not that she’d been all “buck the system.” She’d gotten As and Bs in high school and had chosen accounting pretty quickly in college. She’d never been a bad kid, really; she’d just been full of an energy that had vibrated at a different frequency from the rest of her family.
Why the heck was this so exhausting? All she did was sit there and talk with her mother, help her with lunch and the bathroom, keep her supplied with music and television show. It was barely work at all, but Hannah felt weak as a baby.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: