HANNAH, DIVIDED by Adele Griffin

HANNAH, DIVIDED

Age Range: 9 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

If it’s more common for girls in literature to be great readers and poor math students, then 13-year-old Hannah is certainly different. She can’t read but she has an incredible facility for numbers and for mathematical processes. Home for this Depression-era girl is a dairy farm in Pennsylvania and school is a one-room building in need of repairs. When rich Mrs. Sweet comes from the Mayor’s Education Reform Board in Philadelphia, she offers Hannah an extraordinary opportunity: Hannah can live with Mrs. Sweet, attend a fancy private school, and take a test for a math scholarship to a fancy college. The conflict, not unexpectedly, is poor vs. rich and farm vs. town. Hannah’s parents reluctantly give her permission, perhaps in recognition that Hannah has received her talents from her grandfather. However, Hannah’s snobby new classmates look down on her. Only another of Mrs. Sweet’s charges, a boy with a talent for memorization, befriends Hannah and helps her learn to read by using newspaper accounts of gangsters as practice material. When her big math test is 20 days away, Hannah notes that 20/20 is perfect vision and calcium is 20 on the Periodic Table, automatically seeing patterns and sequences in numbers. Working with numbers is rational and real: “The answer was always waiting and perfect and standing alone.” Her conflict with her farming background builds when she returns home for her grandfather’s funeral. Hannah fails the big test but gains from the experience, realizing that she can still pursue her dream of studying mathematics. It will always be there for her and she will “go anywhere for it.” Hannah’s adoration of numbers and formulas borders on the obsessive and the positive conclusion seems somewhat at odds with the Depression-era setting, but she is a different and rarely seen role model. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7868-0879-9
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2002




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