Summary and book reviews of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

by Hannah Tinti

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti X
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2018, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley

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About this Book

Book Summary

A mesmerizing father-daughter epic that explores what it means to be a hero.

Samuel Hawley isn't like the other fathers in Olympus, Massachusetts. A loner who spent years living on the run, he raised his daughter, Loo, on the road, moving from motel to motel, always watching his back. Now that Loo's a teenager, Hawley wants only to give her a normal life. In his late wife's hometown, he finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at the local high school.

She also grows more and more curious about the death of the mother she never knew. Soon, everywhere she turns, she encounters the mysteries of her parents' lives before she was born. This hidden past is made all the more real by the twelve scars her father carries on his body. Each scar is from a bullet Hawley took over the course of his criminal career. Each is a memory: of another place on the map, another thrilling close call, another moment of love lost and found. As Loo uncovers a history that's darker than she could have known, the demons of her father's past spill over into the present—and together both Hawley and Loo must face a reckoning yet to come.

A coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller that weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is an unforgettable story about the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.

Hawley

When Loo was twelve years old her father taught her how to shoot a gun. He had a case full of them in his room, others hidden in boxes around the house. Loo had seen them at night, when he took the guns apart and cleaned them at the kitchen table, oiling and polishing and brushing for hours. She was forbidden to touch them and so she watched from a distance, learning what she could about their secrets, until the day when she blew out birthday candles on twelve chocolate Ring Dings, arranged on a plate in the shape of a star, and Hawley opened the wooden chest in their living room and put the gift she had been waiting for—­her grandfather's rifle—­into her arms.

Now Loo waited in the hallway as her father pulled down a box of ammunition from the front closet. He took out some .22 rimfires—­long-­rifle and Magnum—­as well as nine-­millimeter Hornady 115-­grain. The bullets rattled inside their cardboard containers as he ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The central relationship in this story is the one between Samuel Hawley and his daughter, Loo. In what ways are they similar, and in what ways are they different? How do Hawley and Loo evoke the special bond between fathers and daughters?
  2. So much of this story begins at the "Greasy Pole." What did you like about this particular chapter? How does it color your understanding of the distinctive town of Olympus, Massachusetts? How does it shift your perspective of Hawley, as a father, and as a man?
  3. Discuss the theme of secrets. What are the secrets that drive the action of the novel? How do secrets bring characters together? How do they drive them apart?
  4. So many great stories are founded on the distinction between ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Tinti is a writer gifted beyond her years, both literary in her perceptions – "the sailboat passed a cargo ship the length of an aircraft carrier, stretching across the surface like a giant guarding the edge of the world" – and possessing a thoroughgoing comprehension of the human condition, our sometimes desperate search for love and family, the rage we often feel as we stumble through our ignorance and past our fear to confront our mortality.   (Reviewed by Gary Presley).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal

Tinti (The Good Thief) here successfully straddles genres. There is enough action and suspense to satisfy thriller fans, but the core of the story is the character development and exploration of relationships common to literary fiction.

Kirkus Reviews

An accomplished if overstuffed merger of coming-of -age tale and literary thriller.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Seamlessly transposing classical myth into a quintessentially American landscape and marrying taut suspense with dreamy lyricism, [Hannah] Tinti's beautifully intricate second novel is well worth the wait.

Booklist

Starred Review. [An] atmospheric, complexly suspenseful saga ... a breathtaking novel of violence and tenderness.

Author Blurb Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is one part Quentin Tarantino, one part Scheherazade, and twelve parts wild innovation. Hannah Tinti proves herself to be an old-fashioned storyteller of the highest order.

Author Blurb Richard Russo, author of Everybody's Fool
Hannah Tinti's The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is a riveting character-driven thriller, a father-daughter road trip you won't soon forget. Fans of The Good Thief who have been waiting for whatever comes next from this gifted writer will find their patience richly rewarded.

Author Blurb Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is utterly magnificent - gripping, suspenseful, funny, and so full of heart ... This is a book I will return to again and again, for sheer pleasure and to learn how it is done.

Reader Reviews

Michael Haughton

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
"Hawley grabbed the Colt now and tucked it under his belt, then strung the rifles across his shoulder. He said, "Come on, troublemaker. which was his daughter Loo." I had deliberately started my review of this book with this excerpt because ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Complications - The Mechanical Watch Variety

Patek Philippe SupercomplicationIn Hannah Tinti's novel, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, Hawley and Jove are sent to recover an antique watch, a priceless item stolen from a crooked boxing promoter and now in the hands of a thief-survivalist living on an island off Washington's coast. The watch has many complications, the term used for any mechanical watch function other than telling time. Hawley becomes fascinated with the device:

The watch was warm from his body and heavy in his palm ... A beating pulse in an antique tomb. He heard a gear click into place and then the watch began to chime.

It was more than a simple marking of an hour. The watch was playing a song. Sweet and melancholy, with the tone of a wind-up music box, as if a miniature ...

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