Hannah's Dream

Hannah's Dream

4.3 72
by Diane Hammond

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An elephant never forgets . . . but can she dream?

For forty-one years, Samson Brown has been caring for Hannah, the lone elephant at the down-at-the-heels Max L. Biedelman Zoo. Having vowed not to retire until an equally loving and devoted caretaker is found to replace him, Sam rejoices when smart, compassionate Neva Wilson is hired as the new elephant

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An elephant never forgets . . . but can she dream?

For forty-one years, Samson Brown has been caring for Hannah, the lone elephant at the down-at-the-heels Max L. Biedelman Zoo. Having vowed not to retire until an equally loving and devoted caretaker is found to replace him, Sam rejoices when smart, compassionate Neva Wilson is hired as the new elephant keeper. But Neva quickly discovers what Sam already knows: that despite their loving care, Hannah is isolated from other elephants and her feet are nearly ruined from standing on hard concrete all day. Using her contacts in the zookeeping world, Neva and Sam hatch a plan to send Hannah to an elephant sanctuary—just as the zoo's angry, unhappy director launches an aggressive revitalization campaign that spotlights Hannah as the star attraction, inextricably tying Hannah's future to the fate of the Max L. Biedelman Zoo.

A charming, poignant, and captivating novel certain to enthrall readers of Water for Elephants, Diane Hammond's Hannah's Dream is a beautifully told tale rich in heart, humor, and intelligence.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hammond (Going to Bend) shares the story of "charismatic mega-vertebrate" Hannah, the elephant star of the failing Max L. Biedelman Zoo, in her sweet but slow third novel. Since the 1950s, Hannah; her loving caretaker, Sam; and the zoo have been languishing. Enter Harriet Saul, the zoo's ambitious new director, and Neva Wilson, an expert elephant keeper; both want to change things, but in different ways. Harriet's plan involves her dressing up as the eccentric zoo founder to give presentations and "commissioning original theme music" for a publicity campaign. Neva's idea is to move the aging Hannah to an elephant sanctuary, a plan supported by nearly everyone, including the zoo's milquetoast business manager. If the conflict sounds weak, it is; the friendship between Hannah and Sam and the gently informational lessons about elephant care are more memorable than the late-breaking battle. The narrative, with its sprawling cast (and attendant relationships and personal histories), often bogs down, but the moments of genuine emotion will charm readers in search of a happy ending. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Meet the Author

Diane Hammond is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Seeing Stars, Hannah's Dream, Going to Bend, and Homesick Creek. She served as a spokesperson for the Free Willy Keiko Foundation and the Oregon Coast Aquarium and currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and their three Pembroke Welsh corgis.

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Hannah's Dream

Chapter One

Samson Brown loved exactly two things in this world: his wife and his elephant. He nearly loved lots of others, of course, and had loved dearly some who were now dead and gone...his folks, his twin brother Jimmy, an old blue dog he'd had once...but real love, in the here-and-now, he reserved for Corinna and Hannah. He knew it, and he made sure they knew it, too. Loving that hard and exclusive didn't make up for the things he couldn't give them...and there were lots of things he couldn't give them...but it went a ways. To a man like Sam, a realistic man, that was something.

The hot-poker truth about the limitations of love was something they'd learned from the dead baby girl Corinna had delivered forty-three years ago, a perfect child with hands as small and tight as fiddleheads. The grief had nearly killed them, grief as solid and mean and unyielding as an anvil that they'd carried with them everywhere until they were shaking from the weight of it and had no choice but to put it down. The doctor had told them there was nothing they could have done to bring their baby out alive; things like that just happened, he said, and sometimes no one knew why. Whatever the reason, the loss of that baby had changed them forever, especially Corinna, a woman who'd wanted only three things out of life: Sam, a child to raise, and a reasonably good relationship with the Lord. She'd gotten Sam all these years. Her relationship with the Lord was another thing.

Still, at sixty-five Corinna was solid as an old tree, someone you could get a purchase on even in a high wind. Many a time she'd kept him going, this big, beautiful womanwho always had time when people came to talk or asked her thoughts about something. And Lord God, but Corinna did have her thoughts. I've got opinions I'll give away for free to anybody who wants them, she was fond of saying. Sam's already heard them all, and God stopped listening a long time ago. And she'd laugh a laugh that was like warm syrup pouring from a jug.

Sam turned at the corner of Powers and Luke Street and then into the Dunkin' Donuts drive-through."Hey," he greeted Rayette at the window.

"Hey, sugar," she said. Rayette was a nice-looking young woman who wore her hair in a million tiny braids Corinna did for her once a month. One thing about Rayette, she always made sure she looked good, never mind anything that might be going on with her two kids and occasional husband...and it seemed like there was always something going on. "You want Bavarian cream today? They just came out," she asked him.

"Nah. She doesn't like them as much as she used to. How about two custards and a jelly? You got any of those strawberry ones? She likes those best."

"Sure thing, hon." Rayette ducked inside.

She'd been selling him donuts for years. When she fetched up at the window again, holding his bag of donuts and some coffee, he asked her, "How long have you been doing Dunkin' Donuts? Ten years, maybe?"

"More like fourteen, honey. Where've you been?" Rayette frowned. "Be fifteen at the end of November." It was September, now. "We're getting old, hon."

"Don't I know it," Sam said, shaking his head. Rayette held onto the bag of donuts for him while he fussed up some change from under the driver's seat. "Shoot. I'm sorry, I know I've got another couple quarters down here..." He found them and handed them over. Rayette passed him the donut bag and a cup of coffee hot enough to scald a rhino. One time Sam hadn't set his cup securely and it had tipped while he was driving, raising up a nice big blister on his leg. He knew why that woman had won her lawsuit against McDonald's, even if most people thought she was a gold digger.

"What happened to that new girl you had?" he asked, stowing the coffee in a cup holder clear on the other side of the car. "She gone already?"

"Well, you know how they are. Kids got no staying power these days, think they should get rich overnight and when it doesn't happen they dump you like it was your fault."

"Mmmm hmmm." Sam breathed in the scent of donuts. He'd had to give them up a year ago, when he was diagnosed with the diabetes.

"Corinna said you were thinking about retirement again," Rayette said, leaning out the drive-through window on her elbows.

"Yeah, I've been thinking about it."

"Well, you just go through with it this time, hon. I never heard of anybody putting off their retirement twice like you."

"When the time's right for Hannah, I'll go."

Rayette just shook her head. "She'd get over it, honey. God makes His creatures strong. I swear, the things you've done for her all these years."

"Yeah. Well, I got to go," Sam said. He would brook no negative comments about Hannah, never had. "I'll see you.""I guess you will," Rayette said. "You watch yourself around that coffee, now."

Sam steered his old Dodge Dart back into morning traffic, making sure the coffee and the bag of donuts were secure. He was a careful man and it paid off. At sixty-eight, even by his own lights, he looked damned good. He stood upright and proud, no gut whatsoever, not even a little one people would have forgiven him for, at his age. A little snowfall on the top of his head, just a light dusting; no gray at the temples, either. Seeing him from the back, you might think he was twenty, but when he turned around his face gave him away. It was deeply lined, like a roadmap starting someplace far away...Cincinnati, maybe, where he was born, or Yakima, Washington, where his daddy had had a truck farm; then Korea, where Sam had served in the war; and ending right here in Bladenham, Washington.

He drove the last mile to the Max L. Biedelman Zoo fighting a powerful urge to take a bite of one of the donuts. He wasn't a drinking man or a smoker, never had been, but he did miss his Dunkin' Donuts.

Hannah's Dream
. Copyright © by Diane Hammond. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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