Shadowing Hannah

Sara Berkeley, Author
Sara Berkeley, Author New Island Books $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-902602-04-2
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Hannah Newell, almost 20, is living in London, having left her father and two brothers back home in Dublin. She moves into a house with two girlfriends, Mo, an overweight, wisecracking lesbian bartender, and Julia, daughter of a rich doctor. Though Hannah's life looks normal, she harbors a dark secret, one that involves her 23-year-old brother, Ren , who writes Hannah a constant stream of letters. Worried that this torrent of mail will arouse her roommates' curiosity, Hannah gets a post office box. She's often lost in memories and fantasies of Ren , who addresses her as ""Sparrow"" in his letters, while signing himself ""Finch."" Though cautious and self-conscious, Hannah masks her despair by drinking with her friends and attending wild parties, eventually acquiring a boyfriend and a job at an art studio. Ren and the taboo relationship that began between them when she was 13 continue to haunt her, however. Rene's letters grow increasingly unnerving, but Hannah can't bring herself to cut the ties, and Ren begins to stalk her in London. Ren 's psychiatrist knows their secret and contacts Hannah, leading up to a fateful meeting between the siblings. Berkeley's plot alternates between tedious and confusing. Hannah's boring domesticity is intricately detailed while her big secret is consistently enshrouded. The tale of forbidden love is unclear and tepid, but the colorless prose gets zippier when focusing on the clever sidekick, Mo. (Sept.)
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