State of the Union

A Novel

State of the Union

From the New York Times bestselling author of Leaving the World comes the compelling story of a woman whose one choice, made decades ago, comes back to haunt her.

America in the 1960s was an era of radical upheaval–of civil rights protests and anti-war marches; of sexual liberation and hallucinogenic drugs. More tellingly, it was a time when you weren’t supposed to trust anyone over the age of thirty; when, if you were young, you rebelled against your parents and their conservative values.

But not Hannah Buchan.

Hannah is a great disappointment to her famous radical father and painter mother. Instead of mounting the barricades and embracing this age of profound social change, she wants nothing more than to marry her doctor boyfriend and raise a family in a small town.

Hannah gets her wish. But once installed as the doctor’s wife in a nowhere corner of Maine, boredom sets in... until an unforeseen moment of personal rebellion changes everything. Especially as Hannah is forced into breaking the law.

For decades, this one transgression in an otherwise faultless life remains buried. But then, in the charged atmosphere of America after 9/11, her secret comes out and her life goes into freefall.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 496 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451602128 | 
  • June 2010
List Price $9.99 (price may vary by retailer)

Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for State of the Union includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Douglas Kennedy. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


While many American college students in the 1960s are marching in protests, using hallucinogenic drugs, and practicing free love, Hannah Latham, the daughter of a famous radical father and a painter mother, wants nothing more than to marry her doctor boyfriend and raise a family in a small town. Hannah gets her wish and settles in rural Maine with her husband, Dan, and their baby son, but she soon finds herself bored and isolated. One night an old acquaintance shows up at Hannah’s door . . . and she makes a decision that will force her into breaking the law and will change her life forever.

Over the next three decades, Hannah’s transgression remains a deeply buried secret, until a frightening incident involving her daughter, Lizzie, suddenly brings the past to light. As Hannah’s life spins out of control, she is faced with the possibility of losing everything—and everyone—she has ever loved.


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About the Author

Douglas Kennedy
Photograph by Christine Ury

Douglas Kennedy

Douglas Kennedy is the author of eleven previous novels, including the international bestsellers The Moment and Five Days. His work has been translated into twenty-two languages, and in 2007 he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He divides his time among London, New York, and Montreal, and has two children. Find out more at