ABOUT THE BOOK:
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
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The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: A Novel by Hannah Tinti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti is a 2017 Dial Press publication.
This is an unusual novel, a ‘coming of age’ story AND a ‘literary thriller’ as the synopsis says. Once I started reading it, I had a hard time putting it down. I kept wondering how this was all going to end, and what would become of the characters in the meantime.
But, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that made this book work, exactly. It’s fast paced, action packed, one minute, then switches instantly to a poignant father/daughter dynamic, which was at once sad and tender. What an odd combination, right?
Yet, it is a riveting tale. The characters are well drawn, but a bit enigmatic. Samuel, who recounts how he came to have all those bullet holes, relates his violent and criminal past, including the way he met Loo’s mother, married her, became a father, a widow, and then a grieving single parent. Samuel is a flawed and conflicted man, who has made some very regrettable choices, but will do anything to protect his daughter. He is dangerous, criminal, and violent, but had me rooting for him in the same way we often secretly cheer for the antihero.
Eventually, Samuel’s past comes to roost and Loo may very well get caught in the crossfire. But, maybe, just maybe, her unorthodox upbringing will not be naught as the stronger, better qualities that live within Samuel will shine through in his daughter.
This is certainly an interesting book, not exactly fitting into the ‘literary thriller’ role as I have come to think of it, but it is still jammed packed with criminal elements and suspense. The promised ‘coming of age’ aspects do slightly edge out the rougher spots, which left me feeling slightly melancholy, but hoping for the best on Loo's behalf.
Overall, the writing here is exquisite, and the story is one that, along with the vivid characterizations will linger in my mind for some time to come.
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