Hello, hello! Welcome to the first monthly installment of book reviews! A friend recently introduced me to NetGalley, a site through which publishers offer ARCs (advance reader copies) in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. While going through their options, I came across Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone, which came out September 19th, 2017, and decided to give it a shot. First and foremost, I have to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC. Here’s my review.
I originally chose to read Half Past because it sounded interesting. Hannah Smith, the 45-year-old protagonist, has returned home to rural Iowa in order to take care of her ailing mother and recover from a divorce and being let go from her job. She discovers that she might be adopted and decides to go on a journey of self-discovery in the hopes of finding out about her origins. The back blurb hints at a dark story, so even though it’s not something I would normally pick up, I tried it.
The whole premise of the novel turned out to be flawed. Hannah is O- blood type and she discovers that her mother who has dementia is AB+. The narrator mentions that anyone who took high school biology knows this isn’t possible, and a brief Internet search seemingly supports that, but I happened to have a doctor’s appointment while reading this book and she said it technically was possible. So, I dug a little deeper (it wasn’t even a difficult search) and discovered articles by a geneticist who teaches at Stanford that explain that while it’s extremely rare, there are a few ways an AB parent can have an O offspring. And if it was just Hannah assuming she knew everything, I could overlook this, but a doctor tells her she must be adopted instead of telling her she needs to consent to more tests to be positive. The whole thing tainted my view of the book, but I kept reading.
Then there was Hannah herself. Honestly, she acted more like a fifteen-year-old than anything. Everything was a major drama that she couldn’t handle, so she constantly ran away and blamed everyone else. She complained about never fitting in, but she never made an effort to do anything about it. And I’m sorry, but at 45 years old, you should know that the woman who raised and loved you (because her childhood was a happy one) is your mom. You don’t run away from her in her time of need to search for your “mom.” I had no way to connect to Hannah until the very end when she finally takes a little responsibility for everything, but by that point I already disliked her. If she were younger and this was a story about her finally becoming an adult, I probably would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. As it is, she came off as a flaky, annoying, crybaby.
The story itself was a quick, easy read. It felt a little predictable, but my mind goes to the dark places a lot easier than other people. I did think it was a little too drawn out. If I found out I was adopted and the only lead I had was a strange birth certificate, the first thing I would’ve done was look for the witness listed on it. Maria Diaz ends up being an afterthought when nothing else pans out. I think Hannah conveniently forgot the name so she could go on a vacation. That’s what it felt like anyway.
I will say that I enjoyed the writing style. It was comfortable and kept me reading despite my issues with the story and with Hannah. While I wouldn’t put it on my list of favorites by any means, I wouldn’t tell people not to read it. It simply wasn’t my cup of tea, but other people might enjoy it.
Ultimately, I’d give it three out of five stars. I wasn’t a fan and I think some things should’ve been better researched, but beyond that it was well written.