I finished reading HATTIE days ago and I am quiet, still immersed in the waters of her life. It is difficult to describe the experience of reading this finely honed novel. Such an exceptional book! It reminds me a little of the wonderful, Colors of the Mountain, by Da Chen, with its contrast of shocking moments and artful writing.
The stories of Hattie’s life are told in a first person narrative, in words that shimmer with the fullness of sorrow, wonder, evil, and love. Her storytelling style is not as simple as it first seems, nor is her life. Hattie’s voice resonates with the honesty of a child, as she describes the circumstances and vastness of emotions that she has experienced in a lifetime. It does not matter that our experiences may differ from hers; we understand the intensity of her fears, her musings, her longings, and her questions. As fellow travelers in life journeys, we are fascinated by her story and her reflections.
Hattie divides the events of her life into three parts: In the Meadow, By the Stream, and Through the Woods. It is as if she begins by tossing a small pebble into the pond of her life—reflecting within the concentric circles of that pebble until the circles disappear into the stillness. She tosses a second pebble into a different area of the pond. It generates a new set of circles. As she reflects about the stories of her life, the pebbles tossed become larger and the wakes deeper, overlapping, and multidimensional as they release their truths, to her and to us.
Readers who have experienced brushes with their own mortality will recognize the circular pattern of her life review. In moments when we believe we may be reaching the end of our lives, our mind goes hunting again and again through its caverns of memories. We yearn for meaning, for the wisdom to be able to see the interlocking circles of our lives more clearly, and we are grateful when a life guide appears to assist us, sometimes so unexpectedly. If we are fortunate enough to see things in new ways and to grasp the meaning, our souls becomes stronger and our hearts more calm. Truly, this is an extraordinary novel.
Bernice Rocque author of When the Robin Walks on Snow