Reviews for HATTIE
“Hattie is a unique book with a gorgeous author voice…. Beautifully rich prose full of emotion. Marketing suggestion: Consider a screenplay.”
Judge, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards 2014
“I’ve never read anything quite like HATTIE. The author draws the reader into Hattie’s singular world with deceptively simple but pitch-perfect language. There isn’t an extra word, sentence, character, or detail in this spare but deep rendering of a woman who has become separated from herself as a result of an abusive relationship. The story captures the awakening of Hattie’s soul, still pristine within her, as she moves from sorrow to acceptance to an appetite for life and experience that had been destroyed.
Many women will relate to HATTIE, not just women who have lived through abusive relationships because the quiet inner process of a woman claiming herself is the subject of this evocative novel, not the abuse. The ways a woman can become cut off from her creative core when her relationships or her work do not fit is something every woman will be able to share. The sentences are a pleasure to read, even as Hattie’s experience is flooded with the universal sorrow of loss. The soulful particularity of this woman and the way she seems to hesitantly share her inner life with the reader is exquisitely and flawlessly paced….”
Maris Nichols October 2014
“What can I say about this beautifully written, poignant book that hasn’t already been said? It is rich with eloquent writing and powerful images. It grabs you by your heart, and pulls you into Hattie’s world. From the opening lines, I was captivated by Hattie’s voice, as she struggles to come to terms with what life has dealt her. Her story, like ours, is one of struggle and loss, and of the power of love and redemption. Some passages are so profound, and beautiful, they took my breath away. We want to know this woman. … We want to know what helps her keep going, against tremendous odds, and what ultimately saves her. Here is wisdom for all of us, just let Hattie tell you her story.”
Leslie Matlen October 2014
“Hattie” is written in a very inventive way–the structure of the story isn’t linear. . .it meanders just like our inner most thoughts. That is very much in keeping with the most contemporary writers that we’ve been reading in our book club which concentrates on “prize winners” like the Booker Prize. I found many powerful observations in the book, but probably my favorite was on p. 264 in the section about living alone and talking to yourself: “Living alone is knowing that you open the door for yourself and there is no need to keep it open after you pass through it.” and the rest of that section (paperback edition)Get I. Bowen devised a very strong, sympathetic character in “Hattie” and I’m glad that Sam came along for her. Keep writing, Ms. Bowen. .. the world needs what you have to offer.
Nancy Mayer July 2014
“Hattie” is a touching story that immediately draws the reader in with Hattie’s first person recollection of her life events. Hattie lived a life of hardship, abuse and painful tragedies as a wash woman, a loving mother and a wife who lost everything but gained herself. Written beautifully with such a poetic voice, I am moved read “Hattie” a second and third time.
J. McArdle Librarian March 2014
“Hattie’s voice is spectacular, while it is also sad and world-weary. We connect instantly to her, and grow to love her more page-by-page…. The author does a great job giving Hattie a dialect without overdoing it. Very subtle and very well done. Descriptions are done masterfully, of scenery, of other characters and of items like the blood-soaked embroidery section. The author does an excellent job of painting each scene with full and experiential detail….Beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful….All of Hattie’s tragedies add up to a fabulous tale of how one goes on when life delivers blow after blow. She creates hope in her journey, and we hope for her as well. We want her to connect with people and be loved…. The mystery is very deep and wonderfully done…. An excellent work of fiction. Bravo to the author.”
Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards
“Overall, this lovely novel has much to recommend it. The writing is wonderful, rich and lyrical and yet always accessible. The heroine Hattie is a very likable character readers are bound to fall in love with. Her voice is strong and compelling and keeps you turning the pages. The supporting characters are well-developed, and the settings are well-drawn. The author has a firm grasp on the elements of fiction; she provides the reader with an emotionally satisfying experience in almost every way….”
Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual self-Published Book Awards
“HATTIE : A BEAUTIFUL DEBUT – A BEAUTIFUL VOICE What strikes me about HATTIE is the consistency of the strong, heartfelt voice of the narrator. Told in first person, intimacy links the page to the reader. We actually hear HATTIE speaking to us. At times, she is so close to us, snuggled inside our skin, that we feel her breath. Author, Anna Bozena Bowen, does a superb job making us care about HATTIE’S life. It is not an easy one! But we stay with her, turning each page, hoping she will triumph… I like Bowen’s style – succinct. This takes courage. If you’re looking for a book that will stay with you, then HATTIE is the one you should read next.”
Poet Julie Maloney, Amazon review, September 2013
“Why isn’t this on the New York Times Bestseller’s List? This book was a beautifully written, deeply emotional story that kept my attention from the first page to the last page. It should be on the New York Times Bestseller’s List. …at times I felt that it was unrelenting in sadness but that fact just proves this author’s skill in pulling you into the life of Hattie. This is a beautiful book.”
Author Marie P. Duess, Amazon Review, August 2013
“I just finished reading HATTIE, and even with such mature content, at 18 I could fully feel the pain of the narrator. It was written beautifully, opening new views on life’s toughest subjects. I was eager to read more about Hattie, and felt myself developing a relationship with her. Not only was it written exceptionally well, but it was so different from any other story I have ever read. It truly captures life’s miseries and beauties. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to open their minds and soul.”
Anonymous (18 year old), Barnes and Noble, August 2013
“By the time I’d finished HATTIE, I felt like I had made a good friend…. It’s written with such a profoundness that I felt as if I was standing right by her, with her whispering in my ear. I especially loved her moments of clarity and vision and celebrated with her as she gained tremendous insight to herself, truly a magical moment. As with other books with heavy content, I needed to proceed slow and would advise other survivors to do the same. But don’t take that as a warning to avoid this book. It’s rich with detail and tells a woman’s very important story. Thank you Anna, for putting this lovely book out into the world and taking us on such a wonderful journey. “
Rescuing Little L, Amazon Review, July 2013
“Bowen has created a world full of vivid characters, but none more vivid than Hattie herself. Hattie’s compelling voice and tension-filled story keep you rooting for this strong woman. What new crisis would she face? Could she find a measure of happiness? A book filled with energy, life and compassion.”
–Tlacativa, Amazon Review, July 2013
Just about as perfect as a book can be, this grabs you from the first word and holds onto your heart right to the last, fateful word. Bowen has created a book that is so fully saturated in the voice of the narrator that the reader comes away feeling as if he or she were Hattie’s best friend. Through short chapters and snippets that jump through Hattie’s life, from her death scene in the opening to her life’s trials and triumphs, the reader experiences Hattie’s hard, unforgiving world and is transported through love, longing, hope, disgust, betrayal, and back to love again. Bowen has us rooting for Hattie to finally find her happiness even though we already know her fate. Hattie is a masterful debut that expertly weaves together themes of love, loss, nature, destiny and the beauty of simple humanity.
US Review of Books/Eric Hoffer Award
HATTIE is an engaging and memorable story of a woman who endures much heartbreak yet survives to tell the truths of her life. The author weaves an intriguing narrative by starting and ending with the protagonist’s, Hattie’s, death. Anna’s writing is concise, lyrical and captivating as she touches upon the universal themes of love, loss and what it feels like to be fully human, in a unique and mesmerizing way.
Hattie’s character is courageous, resilient and lovable and I found myself relating to her trials and triumphs on a deeply personal level as a wife, mother and woman. Hattie comes alive on the page and at the end, when she finally finds her voice, I am satisfied and relieved. This is an impressive and enjoyable debut novel by Anna Bozena Bowen. It is well-crafted and well-paced and leaves me wanting to read more from her.
Kathy Pooler, Amazon Review
Loved Hattie. I had to read it straight through the weekend just to see what was going to happen next. The emotions it brings to the surface run from sadness to delight. Great read and thought provoking. A great book to read with friends and discuss!!!!
Lori Newsome, Amazon Review
HATTIE is a beautifully written and amazing, if not somewhat sad story. The heroine, Hattie, tells in small snippets and episodes of her life as a washer woman, mother and wife, a life full of tragedy, hardship and abuse… It is a story of a selfless and pragmatic woman who gets on with her life without questioning her life and without giving up hope despite an abundance of tragedy…
We learn about Hattie’s childhood… and how it shaped her into the person she has become. We know from the first page onwards that Hattie dies drowning and the theme of being overrun by waves of tragedy and by external forces runs through her life, yet we rarely get the sense of Hattie being a victim. The story is told in a naive and child-like voice that can be shockingly honest and to the point, sometimes sentimental, sometimes determined and often inspirational.
One of the key snippets in the novel for me was a little story about a dog, who contemplates that it is not its own master. ‘What do I have’ it asks and there are several thought provoking snippets like this in the book that make this an almost philosophical read…. The writing is beautiful and entrancing. The author shows a great skill in making us feel the pain without resorting big or explicit drama. The worst is hinted at and implied, feminist themes are also incorporated with subtlety and we are left to take it in on our own. I was completely drawn into the book and Hattie stayed with me long after I had finished reading. The book is a great achievement, I read a lot but this certainly stood out for me.
Christoph Fischer author of The Luck of the Weissensteiners
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
“If you are looking for a book that will make you think, cry, and feel completely, and incredibly alive, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. And you better make sure that you have an ample supply of Kleenex ready, as well as a big pot of whatever your favorite warm beverage happens to be. Curl up in your most loved reading spot and get ready to meet Hattie. And also get ready for her staying in your life long after you turn that last page.
Hattie is the story of one woman’s long struggle for… well, everything. Starting with the end, namely the end of her life, Hattie reveals her innermost self to the reader. If you ever wondered how one could go on living after something really bad happens, Hattie just might have the answer for you. She will teach you how to be brave, how to be vulnerable, how to learn to trust again, and how to cope with loss–again and again. She will show you what really matters, and how true love does change things in the most profound way. She will also teach you that life is not fair, never was, and never will be. And yes, bad things do happen to good people. All that we truly have is the choice of how we deal with that, and whether we will forgive others–and ourselves.
Beautifully written, with a very strong and individual voice, Hattie by Anna Bozena Bowen is an unusually heartfelt book. It is sparse, but not cold. Achingly painful, incredibly courageous, at times nearly mystical, and decidedly spiritual, this is one narrative that you will not soon forget.”
– Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson Blogcritics.org November 26th, 2012
“Well written, heartfelt, and imaginative.”
—Thomas Moore author, Care of the Soul
“Hattie’s story comes out of the heart and soul of what it means to be human in a sometimes inhuman world. It is an extraordinary journey through the depths of human struggle, the heights of human triumph, and the ways in which they are vital and intimate partners in a courageous and transcendent life. HATTIE is exuberant with insight and awareness. This beautifully realized novel teaches us about life, love, and longing and we are humbled and glorified in the process. HATTIE is a terrific read and a life-lasting experience.”
— Janet Thomas author of Day Breaks Over Dharamsala
“HATTIE is the perfect book for a quiet afternoon, snuggled in your favorite chair. Hattie takes you by the hand and walks you gently through the seasons of her life, sharing her observations, her joys and sorrows. This is a well-written, beautifully rendered story told with folksy charm and humor, yet one which tackles very serious issues and events with great wisdom and poignancy. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, and when I had finished I missed Hattie as one misses a very good friend. A novel that reads like a memoir, so it was the best of both genres!”
— Heather Summerhayes Cariou author of Sixtyfive Roses
“HATTIE is about a tragic journey from survival to relationship to wisdom. Like a quilt, the novel is skillfully sewn together into a rich narrative, and Bowen weaves the snippets and stories of Hattie’s life with a deft touch. Each section of cloth has its own history, its own story; come together there is a wonderful wholeness. As Hattie tells her stories one cannot help but remember one’s own. It’s in the telling and the sharing that hearts connect, and you will come to know Hattie and yourself more deeply.”
—Richard Poletunow Psychotherapist, and adjunct faculty, St. Vincent’s College, Bridgeport, Connecticut
“Anna – you are someone who could lead us to our communal soul.”
—Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul in Medicine
“HATTIE the novel is a very special story that instantly and consistently draws the reader in. Its power comes not only from Hattie’s recollection of thoughts and key life events but from the structure – or anti-structure – the novel follows. Purposefully done, the setting in which Hattie’s life takes place is blurred just enough for her words to resonate in the hearts and minds of readers of any age. Evident throughout the novel, Anna Bowen made deliberate choices with syntax, diction, and structure in order to create HATTIE’s unique milieu.
Hattie’s appeal to emotion is never forced and never gender based, as I found even myself empathizing with each trauma Hattie went through. No matter if the reader is male or female, Hattie’s words allow one’s self to be easily put into her shoes. These same words pull in the reader as if he/she were right there in the room going through the same emotional and spiritual journey Hattie so boldly went through.
What is guaranteed is that each and every reader will walk away from HATTIE just a little bit changed – the story forever apart of one’s life. She brings a wise perspective to life’s traumatic and evil side that left me feeling hopeful and confident in my own journey. Does Hattie bring comfort, inquisition, wonder, and even turmoil? Yes, but it is up to each reader to decide what it is that he/she will take away from the experience.
I know I will carry Hattie everywhere I go and will revisit her time and time again.”
– Tim Baldwin , Amazon and Goodreads Review
“The author weaves throughout different time periods in Hattie’s life flawlessly, keeping the reader anxious to find out what happens next. Throughout the many heartbreaking tragedies in Hattie, the author manages to keep hope alive in the meaningful, and realistic blessings that Hattie manages to find along the way…. An excellent read for anyone wanting to experience a little slice of life at it’s best, and worst.”
–Shawn Watson, Amazon review
“As someone who enjoys genealogy, I have found in Hattie what I search for in my own family history. When I add a new name to my family tree there is only so much I know about that family member. I want to be able to ask: What was your life like? What made you joyful? What hurt you to the core of your being? How did you die? When I read Hattie, I felt that I was related to her and she was answering those questions for me. I felt like we were having a conversation … on a spiritual level. I loved this book!!”
–Pamela S. De Paul, Amazon and Goodreads Review
“A thoroughly enjoyable read, like exploring the attic of a distant relative. HATTIE felt vaguely familiar, as if you’d met her long ago… Now you have the opportunity to get acquainted by wandering through the chapters of her life as her journal unfolds. ”
–P. Fradette, Amazon Review
“HATTIE is a heartfelt story of a woman’s struggle to overcome adversity and loss. This after-life retelling chronicles a life of courage, resilience and ultimately acceptance. Hattie’s journey to find understanding and peace is both touching and inspiring.”
–Deb Austin, Amazon Review
“Opening HATTIE the novel is like stepping through a door into something intensely personal… it possesses the intention of her deep need to posthumously re-visit all the events that she could not fully understand in her living journey on earth as a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.
In knowing the stories, a reader can understand Hattie’s need to communicate what has shaped her life and how through that process she finds her voice. Hattie’s authentic cadence, and her ability to weave stories makes me realize the arc of our travels here on earth in the search for spiritual peace with self.
Multilayered in message, meaning and language… Hattie’s journey is like a constellation that loses its shape in the dawning light. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there, turning, evolving and seeking to become light when the darkness falls.”
–Suzanne Lumsden, Amazon Review