Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: December 2013
My Rating: 4.25/5
Source: Received for review from author
Cover: I don’t really see a connection between the cover and the story but the cover is pretty with the clean and simple colors.
Mickey Enright isn’t ready to be dead. His life on earth has been more than satisfactory. He is an icon in Tralee, a “typical Kerryman,” an easy-going, life-of-the-party jokester, a man’s man, a decent, although unexceptional provider who took for granted the faithfulness of his wife, the love of his children, Kerry football, and a few pints with the lads in Betty’s Pub on Rock Street. Convinced there has been a mistake, he demands another chance at mortality.
St. Peter, with an agenda of his own, sends Mickey back to Tralee as a stranger.
Meanwhile, Hannie, Mickey’s widow, has begun to resurface from her loss and celebrate her freedom. She has also learned a thing or two about her late husband, enough to convince her that life after marriage might be more satisfying than it was during.
Mickey, his original purpose to win back a few more years of his former life, finds himself in the unique position of attempting to court his wife, a woman he believed held no surprises for him and, in so doing, learns a thing or two about Hannie as well as playing directly into the hands of St. Peter.
I read, reviewed, and enjoyed Catriona by Jeanette Baker back in 2011. Ever since, I’ve been interested in reading more of Baker’s work. I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed Hannie Rising and am actually pretty surprised how much the story stuck with me. It wasn’t quite what I expected having read the synopsis. This story has nothing to do with the supernatural but rather redemption, the love of family and friendship, and self-discovery. It left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside that stayed with me long after I finished.
The untimely death of Mickey Enright has affected a lot of people in the small town of Tralee. His wife, Hannie, isn’t quite sure how to cope with the loss and his grown children, Kate and Liam, can’t quite imagine what life will be like without their father around any longer. Mickey himself is probably the most shell-shocked of them all. He’s far from ready to leave his life and family behind. After passing into that brilliant white light, St. Peter is there to greet him. Mickey all but begs for a second chance and is again surprised to find out that his wish is to be granted. But his mission isn’t simply about unfinished business. Mickey is in fact allowed to return; he must come back as a stranger and keep his true identity a secret. Not quite sure what this new venture entails Mickey is all too eager to return to his wife, his children, and his life without truly understanding what he must
Meanwhile, it’s been a year since Mickey’s death and Hannie is still missing her husband but is starting to adjust remarkably well. With her children out and living their own lives she has her home to herself and is able to do whatever she likes without having to worry or look after anyone else. It’s a refreshing freedom that comes to a screeching halt even before it truly began. When both of her children ask to come back home and her mother slow descent into the grip of Alzheimer’s, Hannie must relinquish hold on a life she barely got a taste of. But what can she do? She’s a mother, a daughter, a pillar of emotional strength. She couldn’t possibly turn her family away when they need her. But when is someone going to be there for her when she needs it?
I can’t really say this story is just about Mickey or Hannie. Even though the title and even synopsis may lead one to believe this is Hannie’s story it really belongs to the entire family. It’s told in alternating POVs and is very well-executed in my opinion. Kate and Liam become main characters in their own right and even Hannie’s mother levels up there with the rest of the family. What I like most about Baker’s writing is her ability to create relatable, down-to-earth, and emotionally-layered characters. I found a little bit of myself in each of these people. Both Kate and Liam are in their twenties and are struggling to find a path for themselves with different obstacles in their way. Hannie is determined to be the person her family needs but she was just starting to experience a newfound freedom that I really hated to see taken away. Mickey, in disguise, is plopped down into the hubbub trying to discover what his new purpose is. All of them are on a journey that I know countless people can relate to on some level.
I love how I was also able to be totally immersed in Tralee and Ireland itself while following these characters. Having never traveled out of the country, or much out of my home state for that matter, I truly appreciate author’s that are able to bring the setting to life as if I were there. I’m very happy with my overall reading experience and although this is Baker’s latest release I still plan on reading her other books and any future ones she may write.