cover image HANNAH DIVIDED


Adele Griffin, . . Hyperion, $15.99 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0879-3

Hannah, 13, loves math. In fact, she has "a gift for numbers." But it's 1934, and "math [is] more practical for boys," at least, that's what her teacher says. In her hometown of Chadds Ford, Pa., the most she can hope for is tutoring the younger students and invoicing all of her family's dairy accounts. Only her Granddad McNaughton recognizes the possibilities that Hannah's talent could offer her—until Mrs. Theodora Ann Sweet waltzes in from Philadelphia to assess whether Hannah's school should be awarded money from the Wexler Foundation. Griffin (The Other Shepards) makes inventive use of a third-person narration to demonstrate Hannah's computer-like brain and quirky personality. Hannah sums up Mrs. Sweet as "seven suit buttons, eleven footsteps, and five syllables in her name. From bag to beret, Theodora Sweet seemed to be an odd-numbered, slant-sided sort of person"; and she meditates on her favorite number, 32, to try to clear her mind. She travels to Philadelphia to study and to try out for the Wexler Scholarship, but feels divided between math and home. The author remains true to Hannah's personality, laying out the ways in which her eccentricities inhibit her even as she wins over friends who see through to her strengths. Her friend Tru, for instance, offers soothing parting words to Hannah: "All it takes is one chum to make the world shrink to a comfortable size. Wouldn't you say?" Griffin leaves the conclusion realistically and satisfyingly ambiguous, but readers will feel confident that Hannah will come out on top. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)