Hanna, the heroine of Christopher Meades's new novel, is a young woman who has spent her whole life in the secluded community of Clearhaven, a place that seems utterly normal to her. She's never thought twice about why all the men have multiple wives, or whether, as she approaches her 18th birthday, she actually wants to become the fifth wife of Edwin, a much older man.

Hanna Who Fell from the Sky is Meades's fourth novel, but it's his first to be released in the U.S. from a major publisher, and it's the first to feature a female protagonist. The story grew out of Hanna's character, Meades says. "I'm the father of two young girls and I wanted to write a novel about a fearless, empathetic young woman that would resonate with and empower female readers."

If I can overcome my brain injury to write this novel, if Hanna can overcome the odds stacked against her, then hopefully readers can find the inspiration they need to overcome their own adversity.

Meades created the vividly realized world of Clearhaven in order to give voice to the voiceless. "The women in polygamous relationships rarely have a voice in their own world," Meades says. "Hanna's story is about the seclusion of an isolated place, the subjugation she experiences, and how she battles against the forces around her."

Hanna begins to question Clearhaven's polygamous society when she meets Daniel, a mysterious stranger who, for the first time, allows Hanna to imagine an alternative to her arranged marriage. Hanna's mother also shares a secret with her, one that infuses the novel with an element of the surreal. "I wanted to take the edge off the gritty reality in the book," Meades says. "I aimed to add suspense and wonder, a bit of folklore to Hanna's tale, which is finally a story about reimagining yourself and becoming the person you long to be, in spite of what others want you to do. It's a story about being unique."

For Meades, writing the book also represents a profound personal triumph. In 2012, he suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing hockey. "I had trouble walking and could barely speak," Meades says. "At first, I thought my concussion symptoms might quickly go away, but days turned into months and months turned into a year and a half, and I still wasn't better."

The injury would have been difficult for anyone to manage, but to a prolific writer, it presented particularly profound challenges. "I'd always been a binge writer who would hide myself away from my family for a weekend and emerge with 10,000 words," Meades says. He found himself unable to write and deeply frustrated.

Meades's doctor encouraged him to write again during his recovery, but at the time Meades was struggling just to focus on 30 minutes of television; writing seemed like a "daunting challenge," he says. But, one day, he recalls, "I sat down to work." At the beginning, Meades could barely write without his symptoms overwhelming him. "But I forced myself to write every day," he says. "Finally, after eight months, I had a complete manuscript. Something happened along the way as well. As I immersed myself in the writing, my speech improved. My ability to process the world around me improved. My brain recovered."

When asked what he hopes readers will take away from Hanna Who Fell from the Sky, Meades says: "Hanna faces so much adversity, but not once does she lose her capacity for love or her compassion for those around her. Every one of us, from our friends and family to the people we pass on the sidewalk every day, is fighting an invisible battle, often against something out of our control. If I can overcome my brain injury to write this novel, if Hanna can overcome the odds stacked against her, then hopefully readers can find the inspiration they need to overcome their own adversity."