The STATE OF GRACE by Carrie Hannah


An adventurous memory
Email this review


In Hannah’s debut novel, the past and present collide in unexpected and dangerous ways as a woman searches for her missing friend.

Errica Hawthorn’s life is at a crossroads. Still reeling from a devastating miscarriage and the subsequent deterioration of her marriage, she’s moved back to her hometown and started working as an assistant to her father, Kenneth, a retired diplomat. Her relationship with her emotionally distant father has been complicated, due to the demands of his career and the family’s frequent moves around the world. At college in the mid-1970s, Errica met Birdy Grace, a young woman whose effervescence and sense of adventure captivated her. They became inseparable friends, and together with Birdy’s boyfriend, Harper, they traveled to Morocco, where they became involved in international drug trafficking. When Birdy disappeared after a drug deal went bad, Errica asked her father for help. Later, she was heartbroken to learn that Birdy had died. More than 20 years later, however, a series of events convinces her that there was more to Birdy’s disappearance than she was ever told. Her renewed search leads her back to Morocco, where she confronts the past and discovers some surprising family secrets. Hannah weaves a compelling tale, employing flashbacks that parallel Errica’s present-day life and journey to Morocco. At times, however, the prose could have used a bit more polish; for example, the English actress Hayley Mills is referred to as “Haley Mills” and the expression “well-heeled” is spelled “well-healed.” That said, Hannah makes Errica just as fascinating and complex as the television heroines she admires, such as Peggy Lipton’s character from The Mod Squad. She effectively shows how Errica has been defined by her father’s career and the propriety it demands, but also how she secretly longs for a more adventurous life. Overall, Errica’s Moroccan adventures, both as a student and as an adult, frequently pulse with excitement and danger. Birdy Grace is a vivid, memorable foil, and their friendship is both convincing and poignant.

An often engaging mystery, bolstered by complex, well-developed characters, exotic locations and an effective narrative structure.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2014
ISBN: 978-1499391152
Page count: 418pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


FictionTHE INVISIBLE CIRCUS by Jennifer Egan
by Jennifer Egan
FictionEAT THE DOCUMENT by Dana Spiotta
by Dana Spiotta
FictionLITTLE MISS STRANGE by Joanna Rose
by Joanna Rose