Reviews for Hannah
Booklist Reviews 2009 September #1
Stricken by a mysterious malady when she is sent westward on an orphan train, 15-year-old Hannah instinctively knows that she can be cured by proximity to the ocean. She returns to Boston and takes a position as a scullery maid in a wealthy household, where a young artist comes to paint a portrait of her employers' three daughters. A mysterious, rather romantic figure, he seems to see into Hannah's soul. Slowly, she becomes aware that she is transforming into a daughter of the sea. The first book in a series about sisters separated at birth, this novel has menacing, almost gothic overtones as well as a strong sense of time, place, and class distinctions. Elements within the painting, which sounds similar to John Singer Sargent's Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, become pivotal points in the setting and the story. Nicely designed, this compelling novel has an attractive jacket illustration showing a rather modern-looking Hannah in her element, the sea. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 August #2
Orphan Hannah Albury, 15, the engagingly demure yet plucky heroine, has always been drawn to the ocean. Hired as scullery maid by the Hawleys, a wealthy Boston family, she embarks on a journey to understand and fulfill her destiny. Hannah is attracted to the family's mysterious porcelain vases depicting sea creatures and even more so to Mr. Wheeler, an artist hired to paint the three Hawley daughters. He in turn hungers for and recognizes in Hannah what she doesn't yet grasp. Meanwhile, the Hawleys' psychotic eldest daughter, Lila, and her demonic cat, Jade, see Hannah as a threat; as she deciphers the secret of her identity, Hannah must ward off their perhaps supernatural attacks. The novel, first in a projected series, at first offers its early-20th-century history lesson in overly painstaking detail, especially the domestic staff hierarchy. Once Lila, Jade and Mr. Wheeler show up, the plot becomes gripping. A good bet for upper middle-grade and early YA readers. (Fantasy. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
At the turn of the century, 15-year-old Hannah Albury is sent on an "orphan train" to Kansas, where she is consumed by longing for the ocean. This longing soon turns to illness, as her skin begins to flake in tiny, iridescent crystals. Persuading her benefactors to send her back to Boston, she is hired as a scullery maid. Domestic work brings Hannah the opportunity to experience many marvelous things, but what draws and troubles her most are portrait painter Stannish Whitman Wheeler, who seems to understand her in uncanny ways, and the eldest daughter of the house, Lila Hawley, whose malice is equally inexplicable. Lasky is at her best in evoking Hannah's aquatic preoccupation and the way it molds her perception of everything around her. The story's plot seems to take a backseat to historical detail: while readers will likely suspect the revelations to come, they are a long time in arriving, and the story offers little in the way of closure. This is the first in Lasky's planned Daughters of the Sea series, with plenty left open for later titles. Ages 9--12. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 October
Gr 4-6--In this first book in a projected series, orphan Hannah, 15, tries to find success as a scullery maid in an upscale Boston household at the end of the 19th century. In addition to having to learn new rules and skills, she must contend with the family's three daughters, including demanding Lila and her sinister cat. Hannah knows that she is different--she leaves salt in the bathtub, becomes physically ill when away from the sea, and seems to be shedding odd crystals. When a famous painter arrives to do a portrait of the three sisters, he immediately senses Hannah's secrets but will not give her answers. Because Lasky stretches the mystery of Hannah's nature throughout the book, her decision regarding where she belongs becomes rushed and anticlimactic. The heart of the story lies in the day-to-day activities of the Hawley household, especially the lengths the family and staff go to to appease Lila, and the destruction she causes whenever she does not get her way. The resolution of this story will appear weak to some readers, but many will identify with independent and winsome Hannah as she tries to find her place in the world.--Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD [Page 129]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2010 February
When fifteen-year-old Hannah is considered unsuitable for employment in Boston, she is sent to Kansas on an orphan train. But the farther she travels from the sea, the more ill she becomes. She sheds sphere-like crystals and begins to itch so much beneath her "combos" that she sheds these, too. The minister and his wife who take her into their home are "stunned" at Hannah's strange appearance and send her back to Boston where she is placed as a scullery maid in the household of the Hawleys, a "refined" Boston family. Hannah is fascinated by the Hawley's Japanese vases that feature a mermaid's tail rising from the sea. She is also drawn to the acclaimed young portrait painter who is commissioned to paint the three Hawley daughters. When the family moves to its vacation home by the sea in Maine right, Hannah finally finds out where she truly belongs Lasky brings together an orphan story, the "upstairs downstairs" of a Victorian household, and a mermaid tale into an intriguing combination. There are lovely character descriptions of the serving "family" and of members of the Hawley family. The insane elder daughter and her menacing cat add a gothic element; the attraction between Hannah and the artist, who has renounced his Mer heritage, adds a taste of romance. Passages evoke the music of the harp that resonates with the "liquid, floating world where [Hannah] fits." Readers who enjoy Helen Dunmore's "Ingo" series may also enjoy this pleasurable mermaid story.--Hilary S. Crew 4Q 4P J S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.