Mary Kay McComas has written a powerful novel about abuse with What Happened to Hannah. Though Hannah is a strong, independent woman, her childhood memories leave her shattered. Having to deal with them all over again is the hardest thing Hannah could ever do, yet she must face them for the sake of her niece. This is a very readable novel, and while it deals with serious issues, it never loses its charm or grace.
Hannah Benson is anything but well-adjusted. She has never come to terms with her difficult past, though she ran away from it as a teenager and has done her best to start over. Memories of her father’s physical and emotional abuse still haunt her as an adult. Still, Hannah has done her best to move on, to forget what she left behind, but all those barriers come crashing down with one phone call. Hannah’s old teenage boyfriend, Grady Steadman, delivers the news that Hannah’s sister and mother have died, and Hannah is now the legal guardian of the teenage niece she’s never met.
Hannah reluctantly heads home, chased by the demons hidden in her past, and meets Anna, her surprisingly calm, even-tempered niece. Anna has doubts and fears of her own, centered on the fact that she has found herself alone in a world with an aunt who has never bothered to meet her, much less get to know her. Both Hannah and Anna must deal with their own issues and insecurities on the difficult road to becoming a small family.
As Hannah comes to terms with the past and faces the memories she wants so badly to forget, she must deal with more than just her niece. Her attraction to Grady resurfaces, and just as she’s fighting as hard as she can to get out of her hometown, Hannah is constantly reminded how many reasons she has to put down roots and commit to something.