Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt Review

I was sent Hannah’s Moon by the author for an honest review.

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel. Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival. Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

When I first read the description, I thought it was an interesting enough premise to read the book, but as soon as I started it I had several issues with the basic idea. To be honest, it sounds like an irresponsible use of time travel. Throughout the whole book my biggest issue with the plot and characters was how unbelievable everything was. Readers are supposed to believe a relative of Claire’s has a secret time travel tunnel (I can buy that) and that he and his wife, the only two with a real understanding and knowledge of it, would let people go back in time to adopt a baby from 1945 because adoption laws aren’t as strict? I don’t buy that. Any responsible person with this knowledge wouldn’t mess with time in such a dramatic way. I kept thinking about my grandparents when I read it because they were born in the forties. I wouldn’t be alive if they hadn’t had the lives they did. Claire and Ron going back to take a baby from 1945 means that in 2017, the year they leave from, they are really taking the life of someone out there who is already in their seventies. A 72 year old man or woman would suddenly not exist in the present, erasing any children and grandchildren they had. The consequences could be catastrophic but no one seemed to care that the baby from 1945 already grew up by 2017 and had a life. Sure, they could have died or maybe not had children or anything, but the point is there is no way to tell who they were going to be or the effect they (or their descendants) would have in the world. I really had a hard time looking past this. 

As for the rest of the plot, I felt that everything was a bit over the top. I don’t want to mention specifics and ruin it for any potential readers, but it felt like they got into a lot of messes in 1945 out of carelessness. I was shaking my head all the time because they weren’t being smart. If I traveled back in time, I’d keep a low profile and be incredibly careful about everything I did and said. No one was in a rush to get back to the present and they got comfortable in 1945 immediately. I also didn’t understand the need to follow every rule in 1945. If you have the ability to adopt the child and immediately return to the present (without waiting for the adoption to become official in 1945) why not just take the kid and go? It doesn’t matter if the adoption is official in 1945 because you’re going to have to forge documents for 2017 anyway. 

Another thing I couldn’t get past was that Claire’s aunt and uncle (the ones who introduced them to time travel) didn’t stay with them in 1945. They went gallivanting around Latin America and left them to fend for themselves. Sure, they gave them money, a house and advice, but what intelligent person would leave first-time time travelers on their own in 1945 for months? I know I wouldn’t. Moving on to the end, it wasn’t satisfying. I felt it dragged on longer than necessary and did something that was cheesy and reckless in regard to not causing big changes in the natural order of time. It was treated casually, like traveling from one country to another instead of different centuries.

The writing wasn’t to my liking, either. Although I do think the first chapter was an intriguing start to the story, I had a sense that I wouldn’t enjoy the writing just from that short chapter. The way things were phrased and described was repetitive—the words and sentence/paragraph structure were the same numerous times throughout the book. Characters would often say something like “The character did this. He did this because…” and then there’d be some explanation. Also, there was a pattern of describing or listing things in threes. Here’s an example from the book that shows both of these: “So he waited and wondered. He waited and wondered until his attorney walked into the meeting room wearing a crisp gray suit, a dark blue tie, and a frown.” Here’s another example of the threes: “As she gazed at Hannah from the crib, she pondered her difficult past, her unsettled present, and her uncertain future.” This happens a lot in the book and it got a bit irritating. There was also too much telling instead of showing. When books use the word “feel” a lot, there’s a disconnect between the story and the reader. It should be felt (or at least understood/pictured) by the reader because of the descriptions. There was also a lot of “watched with interest” and “watched with amusement,” etc. which I don’t like.

The characters felt awkward to me. Their interactions seemed unnatural and didn’t come across as normal interactions between a brother and sister or husband and wife. Their casual banter felt forced, they were always so nice to each other and spent a lot of time admiring each other in ways that I don’t think real people would. Characters’ thinking also felt unnatural because they constantly thought about the state of their lives then “turned their thoughts” to something else. Thinking doesn’t always work like that, it’s not so deliberate all the time. They “pondered,” “took a moment to consider,” and “took a moment to assess” a lot, too. There were also some cases of Master Detective where characters knew too much about another character just from one glance or just after meeting them. An example: “Claire seemed more complex. She came across as kind, adventurous, and sensitive. Margaret saw a hint of sadness in the pretty brunette’s big brown eyes and guessed that much of that stemmed from recent trauma.” How would you guess that right after meeting someone? No one had any reactions to their issues that a normal person would’ve had. They were always far too calm and accepting. No one really freaked out over anything even though their situation was really rough at several points. There was a lack of emotional depth despite emotionally draining circumstances and it came across as someone describing surface level emotions while trying to sound like they weren’t surface level. 

Some awkward sentences that caught my eye: “He sniffed a few times, crinkled his snout, and looked at Claire with concern in his eyes.” This is a person, not a dog. 

“When she heard the back door open and two souls giggle their way through the kitchen…” Souls can giggle? Just sounds strange. 

Clearly, I wasn’t a fan of this book. I’m sure there are people out there who enjoy this style of writing and won’t be bothered by the numerous things that bothered me, but I just couldn’t get into it. It seemed obvious that certain things were done in the plot just so they wouldn’t have an easy way home but they felt like flimsy ways to keep them in 1945. The rest of the plot was dramatic but didn’t deliver on believability. I felt bogged down reading it and it took much longer than it should’ve. Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy for review.



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