The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: A Novel - Hannah Tinti

A father protects his daughter from the legacy of his past—and the truth about her mother’s death—in this thrilling new novel from the prize-winning author of The Good Thief.

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter, Loo, to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past—a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. This father-daughter epic weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks. Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores what it means to be a hero, and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.


Eloquently written, this book was lyrical and lovely yet for some reason I was never fully captivated.


The web of characters was well twined--from Loo's principal to her grandmother, I felt like they all fit into the web of a greater picture. Each had their own clear motives and intriguing backstories and in my opinion that was the most successful element of this book.


The timeline in which it is told works very well, and I had a lot of fun piecing together thoughts from the past and the present and seeing how pieces of the puzzle fittogether. In this regard, it's almost a mystery in that I was guessing while reading about how Hawley had come to be as he was, and about the mysteries of Lily's life.


This book contained a lot more action than I normally read, with violence and epic chases and very many guns. The latter was lost on me as I can barely tell a revolver from a shotgun, but the book definitely kept moving with a lot of excitement.


I have never had a child, yet I feel like this book was one of few that gave me a glimpse into the all-consuming love that parents have for children. The author portrayed this magnificently throughout various characters--normally I feel as though it is assumed that I understand this love, but this book actually showed me.


Yet I was never truly captivated by this book, and I put it down to read others and was easily able to forget about it. It didn't captivate me as much as I thought that it would. I liked the characters, but didn't love them. I was intrigued by the how Hawley had ended up in the present, but not enough that it kept me thinking after I closed the book.


I definitely recommend this, even though I failed to fall in love with it.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.