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BookBrowse Reviews The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

by Ayana Mathis

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2013, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2013, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

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This powerful debut successfully captures the black experience in mid-20th century America by narrating various facets of one mother's life through the voices of her children.

Ayana Mathis's debut novel The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is a stunning, penetrating portrait of a woman through the eyes of her children. Hattie arrives in Philadelphia in 1923, as part of the Great Migration, the huge tide of African Americans that left the South for other areas of the United States between 1910-1970. Full of hope for the future and amazed by the differences between her childhood home in Georgia and the progressive northern city, she marries August and has twins. She names the children Philadelphia and Jubilee to celebrate the brightness of her new life. As the story unfolds, and disappointments accrue, Hattie's initial vibrancy fades to a terse, hard-lipped discontent. Each year brings a new child and another mouth to feed. August's devotion to his wife ends at the jingle of the local juke and the sashay of another woman's skirts. Hattie's challenges seem insurmountable,...

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