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Hannah & Huia by Charlotte Lobb

We first encounter Hannah in a psychiatric ward after suffering a devastating loss, her world ripped apart by a savage, unthinkable event. She is in shock, reeling from her grief and also her guilt. She is unable to communicate; her despair is so great. She has lost all hope for the future.

But then she notices Huia, one of the long-term residents in the mental health unit. Huia is an older Māori woman who spends her days picking at her sleeve and muttering sequences of unrelated words.

The other residents have become used to her ways and pay her little notice. But as Hannah begins observing her, she is drawn to Huia, especially when she mutters the enigmatic words, ‘Sun, rain, bye-bye.’ What do these words mean? What is Huia’s story?

Hannah is slowly drawn out of her own despair, and she begins to be able to understand the hidden meaning of some of Huia’s seemingly random words. Hannah discovers small clues about Huia that she decides to investigate that may reveal the truth of Huia’s mysterious past.

Hannah & Huia is a moving story of two women who have suffered significant loss and trauma, and it is also a story of redemption and hope. This is a brave, unforgettable debut novel that explores issues of mental health in a sensitive and compassionate way. It’s two stories in one compelling novel, Hannah’s recent loss beautifully counterpointed part way through by Huia’s heartbreaking past.

Hannah & Huia is a special and surprising drama written with a great deal of heart and soul.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Quentin Wilson Publishing


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