How did Hanna's mother neglect her, and what impact did that have on her later in her life?

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sfwriter eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sarah, Hanna's mother, is a world-class surgeon who spends so much of her time at the hospital that Hanna is raised by a series of housekeepers.  This constant abandonment of Hanna means that Hanna builds level of self-reliance that makes her challenge her mother early on.  While Sarah likes that Hanna is strong and independent, this backfires when Hanna decides to go into a field for which Sarah has nothing but contempt: book restoration.

Besides the emotional neglect caused by Sarah's absence, Sarah withholds the identity of Hanna's father from her.  Hanna resembled her famous artist father Aaron Sharansky in so many ways -- physically, in temperament, and artistic inclinations -- that Sarah couldn't bear to be around her.  Sarah says that this was because she was grieving for the death of Hanna's father, but her emotional coldness and selfishness stunted Hanna's emotional growth to such an extent that the mother-daughter relationship deteriorates past repair.

Hanna's relationship with Ozren is fraught with her own unresolved issues.  Ozren, a widower with a critically injured son, is not without his own emotional baggage, and the deceit he practices upon her causes an almost permanent rift between them.  That Hanna would become involved with someone like Ozren is partially in rebellion against what her mother would think was proper; the fact that she forgives Ozren, in the end, however, is evidence of Hanna's emotional growth.  Hanna breaks ties with her mother, and this allows her to pass some of the emotional roadblocks that had hampered her in the past.

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People of the Book

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