The Twelve Lives Of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti– 480 pages
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.
My Review: 4 stars
The Twelve Lives Of Samuel Hawley is an epic tale full of adventure, love, time and protection between a father and daughter. Hawley, a large and heavily scarred man, begs the reader to ask, “Can a bad man be a good person?” He’s got twelve bullet scars and his story unfolds as we learn the story of each bullet. Many of his stories have timepieces in them and it’s not lost on the reader that there are twelve bullets and twelve numbers on a clock.This is an ambitious way to tell a story but Tinti does it pure justice. She turns Hawley into a reluctant hero through his survival and his ultimate protection of his daughter Loo.
As we are puzzling out Hawley’s stories, we’re also given a present day look into Loo’s life after too many moves, no real friends and a traveling bathroom shrine to honor her dead mother. In her chapters we see how Hawley takes care of her and in each chapter she learns something new. She learns to shoot, roll cigarettes, hot wire a car, kiss and more. This sounds disturbing but it comes off as meaningful and important to the story.
There are many references to Hercules and mythology. If you recall, Hercules had to do Twelve Labors in penance for killing his wife and family. Although he did evil things, he’ll always be remembered for being a heroic figure. Hawley too had twelve bullets but will be remembered as a hero. Finally, this book is set in Olympus, Massachusetts and Hercules also ended up in Olympus, well, Mt. Olympus.
Quotes I liked:
Love isn’t about keeping promises. It’s about knowing someone better than anyone else.”
-“… he left the table and followed, as if she were a magnet drawing him away from his better judgment.”
-“You are not going to catch any goddamn fish today. You will go upstairs. You will put on a goddamn shirt. And then you will drive us to the goddamn church and get our daughter baptized.”