Fiction — print. Harper, 2008. 319 pgs. Purchased.
I purchased Hammond’s book at a recent used book sale put on by the Friends of the Public Library, but I was drawn to this fictional account of an elephant being moved to an elephant sanctuary because of the controversy surrounding the proposed move of Jenny, an elephant living alone at the Dallas Zoo, to a drive-through zoo in Mexico rather than an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. (Eventually it was decided Jenny would stay at the Dallas Zoo with the addition of a new elephant companion and new building.)
In this fictional tale, Hannah has been carried for forty-one years by Samson “Sam” Brown, an aging man suffering from diabetics and an ulcer on his foot, at a private animal collection turned zoo that is not accredited by the American Zoo Association, the Max L. Biedelman Zoo. Hannah has been without a companion elephant since 1954 and those working at the zoo, other than the director determined to turn the zoo around on the back of Hannah the elephant, understand that once Sam goes Hannah will go unless something changes.
The pads on her feet have worn away from standing on concrete for hours on end; the skin on her leg has worn away from the shackle she is forced to wear for up to fourteen hours a night. Sam and his wife, Corinna, have do all that can, including spending several hours every night watching movies with Hannah in her barn. Except something has to change, and the new zookeeper brought into eventually take over for Sam, Neva Wilson, has an idea.
This is one of the most enduring novels I read in a long time; it’s such a charming and sweet story about an aging elephant and the people who love her. Each character is fully developed and I easily slipped into their lives as the story progressed. Even the minors characters that seem to have little to do with Sam’s dream for Hannah are expertly crafted into this story. A heartfelt story of a 41-year love affair, I simply could not put Hannah’s Dream down and it pulled on my heartstrings even after the last page. Just a beautiful, beautiful story.