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Friday, March 15, 2013

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie: A Novel

I was introduced to The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis before it came out--it turns out Ms. Mathis is a friend of a friend. So I was urged to pick up this book ASAP.

Hattie and her family narrowly escape trouble in Georgia and settle in Philadelphia in the early 20th century. There she meets August, marries at 15, and finds herself with two beautiful twin babies soon after. Their death as infants marks Hattie permanently, closing her off to love and affection for the rest of her nine children and her husband. Each child faces trials of their own told over the course of fifty years, several good choices and even more bad ones, multiple heartaches, and numerous loves and losses. Each child must find his or her own way in the world while still finding a way to accept the family for exactly who they are--each and every one of them.

This book was beautiful. So much heartache in such a small book--the level of emotion contained in these pages was astounding. We are from where we come, and each of the Shepherd children must find a way to accept self and reconcile their past with his or her present and, subsequently, his or her future. Each story is an emotional roller coaster ride that lead the reader on a search for happiness, love, and peace of spirit.

This book was a wonderful way to pass the time over the weekend. I love that the stories were broken up and that each one built on the last in chronological order. I loved the family unit that was together yet so separate, and I found the storytelling narrative that flowed through time to be coherent and excellent. I love that each child knew so much more than Hattie thought could be possible--just as children believe their parents have no clue, parents have no clue that their children actually know that which we would like to hide. Family secrets can only remain as such for so long.

Add this to your library. Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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