The Nova Scotian

Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009

In a small private zoo on the grounds of Havenside near Puget Sound, lives an elephant. Hannah is small, blinded in one eye as a baby and rescued from Burma by Max Biedleman. Max was a visionary, a woman whose dignity, compassion and foresight holds the zoo together long after her death. Before she dies, she appoints Hannah’s keeper, Samson Brown, to be the elephant’s legal guardian. And Sam loves "exactly two things in his life: his wife and his elephant." For 41 years, Sam and Hannah spend their days together, walking, watching TV and growing old. The problem is that Sam is growing old faster than Hannah.

Hammond has created some quirky and endearing characters in Hannah’s Dream. There is Truman, single parent and zoo accountant, who buys a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig as company for his son, with interesting results. Neva Wilson, a young elephant keeper hired to replace Sam when he retires, teaches Hannah how to paint. Corinne, Sam’s wife, spends many evenings watching movies in the elephant enclosure and believes Hannah to be the reincarnation of her dead baby girl. And Harriet Saul, the Zoo’s director, is just a nasty piece of work. Together, this unlikely group staggers toward understanding what needs to happen to ensure Hannah’s healthy and happy future.

Hammond has created a love story with Hannah at the centre, who loves unreservedly and who is loved passionately in return. Hannah’s Dream is a heartwarming story with an intelligent, quiet message that is hard to ignore.

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