Cover Image: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

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There's something about the kind of relationships, like the one in this book, that really speaks to my heart. I was surprised how much I truly loved this book. Please read people.
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Did not finish. I couldn't get into this book enough to care about the characters.
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I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading this book.
With in depth characters while going from past to present I couldn't wait to read the next page to find out more.
I laughed, cried and was amazed through out.
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Reading this book prompted me to think about how I judge the books that I read. Certainly by the writing, the story, the structure, the themes, that sometimes indescribable thing that draws me in, and of course, the characters. There are probably other things that influence my views - the mood I'm in, maybe the book I've just read. I thought about this because Sam Hawley is not the kind of character that I usually care about. He has led a life of crime and is far from the perfect parent but yet in spite of this, there is something about him that made me want him to win, to beat his past. It could be the love and devotion he has for his daughter Loo or the broken hearted, guilt ridden life he has led since Loo's mother, Lily died. 

Until Loo is twelve the only life she knows is the vagabond life on the road with her father, moving from place to place, never making friends or fitting in. It is then that Sam settles down with Loo in the town where her mother was born hoping to bring some stability to her life. This is not just about the present, though. Tinti skillfully brings us back in time with alternating chapters divulging Sam's past with chapters devoted to the twelve scars from bullets he took over the years. The present chapters are focused on Loo in these next five years and how she tries to adjust and how she slowly learns all of the things she never knew about her mother. The reader also slowly discovers Lily through the chapters focusing on Sam's past as well. One of the draws for me was wondering how and when Tinti would converge the past and present and again, skillfully. It's well written, emotional, heartbreaking at times and in spite of Hawley's flaws and how impossible it is to condone his actions, I would recommend it. 

I received an advanced copy of this book from a Random House Publishing Group - Random House through NetGalley.
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4.5 stars

I don't even know where to start. How can I give 4.5 stars to a book I can't even begin to review, you ask? Because it is quite possibly one of the most complicated, original books I've ever read and my feelings for it are pulled in so many different directions I can't tell which one will win out. 

Do I love it? A little, yeah.

Will I remember it? Oh yeah.

Will I read Hannah Tinti again ? Already on it. Starting The Good Thief now. 

Would I recommend The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley? Big, fat, resounding yes!!
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Tinti's novel is addictive. Hawley and Loo are a father and daughter attempting to outrun their past while caught up in a cycle of love and violence, secrets and half truths. Each grieves wife and mother, Lily, and neither of them can move on without acknowledging how Lily died. Hawley's string of bad choices and good luck has produced the titular "twelve lives" or scars that cover his body. Each represents a part of Hawley's story that must unfold in its entirety so that his daughter can accept who he is and the choices that have dictated the course of her young life.  This story is Hawley's past meeting Loo's coming-of-age. 

This book is unlike my usual reading choices, but it was a must read with Hannah Tinti's name attached. Her characters are real, flawed, and complex. The writing is compelling and visceral. I don't enjoy novels with graphic violence and yet the brutality was necessary, raw, and brilliantly written.  I fell in love with Hawley and Loo. Their search for love and freedom is timeless.
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A thrilling story of a father's life before his daughter, juxtaposed with the daughter's journey to uncovering that past.
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One thing about love, be it romantic, parental, filial, even platonic, is that sometimes you can't help whom you love, and you find yourself loving someone in spite of their faults (if not even because of them). Do we turn our backs on those we love just because they may be imperfect, despite all they may have given us? These ideas and questions are at the core of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, Hannah Tinti's exquisite new novel.

For as long she can remember, it's just been the two of them—Loo and her father, Samuel. He's a mysterious man, with scars all over his body, including many from bullet wounds, but his rough exterior belies a deep sensitivity borne from the death of her mother, Lily, when she was very young. Samuel and Loo have a nomadic like existence in her childhood—just as it seems they're getting settled somewhere, suddenly one day her father will come home and tell her they're moving away, and they pack up only the essentials and flee wherever they're living, setting out on a new course. One of the only constants she knows is the shrine of sorts her father builds for her mother wherever they go, tiny glimpses into a life she never really knew.

"The marks on her father's body had always been there. He did not show them off to Loo but he did not hide them, either. They reminded her of the craters on the moon that she studied at night with her telescope. Circles made from comets and asteroids that slammed into the cold, hard rock because it had no protective atmosphere to burn them up. Like those craters, Hawley's scars were signs of previous damage, that had impacted his life long before she was born. And like the moon, Hawley was always circling between Loo and the rest of the universe. Reflecting light at times, but only in slivers. And then, every thirty days or so, becoming the fullest and brightest object in the sky..."

In Loo's teenage years, Samuel recognizes the need for constancy, so the two move to Olympus, the New England town where her mother grew up. He finds work—and challenges—as a fisherman, while Loo tries to fit in at the local high school. But it isn't long before the characteristics that make Loo special, the behaviors that come from a young girl raised only by her father, that she becomes an outcast, which awakens a surprising anger deep inside her, at the same time that she finds herself drawn to one particular boy.

The longer they stay in Olympus, the more entangled in the community and its quirks both become, yet the more Samuel can't seem to escape his old ways. Loo becomes more desperate to know about her mother, and the secrets her father has kept hidden all her life, and being Olympus helps to unlock some of those mysteries, yet leaves her questioning just who her father is, and whether the things he has kept from her all of her life were lies or simply sins of omission.

As much as this book is about Loo and Samuel's relationship, it's also Samuel's story, a chronicling of his criminal past and where each of his bullet scars came from, and the story of a love he thought would save him, a love he didn't nurture and care for as much as he should have. And it's also the story of a man trying desperately to tread the right path for his daughter despite his inability to keep his own demons at bay.

This was a fantastic, moving, beautifully told book. The relationship between Samuel and Loo is truly a special one, and even though he's not the best role model for his daughter, and he introduces elements into her life she would have been better off without, these things give color and shape to their relationship. There are times you wonder if Loo might be happier and more adjusted without her father, but then again, what would her life be without him?

While The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is essentially a two-person story (with Lily's presence a strong third element), Tinti doesn't give the supporting characters short shrift. These are fascinating, flawed, memorable individuals who are so much more complex than they first appear. Not all of these characters are likable, but they truly bring something special to the book.

You may not think that Samuel is deserving of sympathy (or empathy, for that matter), but like many a flawed character in literature, you care about him despite his flaws, and for his good qualities, especially the fierceness with which he loves and protects his daughter. This is a book I won't soon forget.

NetGalley and Random House provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!
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Thank you Net Galley for allowing me to read the great book. I loved it from start to finish and have recomended to many friends.
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3.5 Stars. A beautifully-written story about an unconventional father-daughter relationship. For as long as Loo can remember, it's always been just her and her father Samuel Hawley; her mother Lily died when Loo was a baby. Hawley sets up a shrine to Lily at every single place they stop. They've never stayed in one place for long. By the time Loo is 12, she's gone to seven schools in seven states. When it's time for her to enter eighth grade, they finally settle down in her late mother's hometown of Olympus, Massachusetts, a close-knit fishing community with some quaint traditions. As Loo grows up, she realizes that her life isn't normal and starts to question everything. Why does Hawley take so many guns just to go fishing? What are the stories behind each of her father's scars? How did her mother, an excellent swimmer, die by drowning? Perhaps if Loo can unravel the past, she can make sense of their present. The chapters alternate between the stories behind each of Samuel Hawley's twelve bullet scars and Loo's coming-of-age story.

Samuel Hawley isn't a good man, but he has goodness in him, especially when it comes to protecting his daughter. He does the best he can by his family, which isn't always good enough. He resents his own father for leaving him unprepared for the challenges he's faced, so he's vowed not to repeat the same mistakes with his own child. His parenting style is unusual and the lessons he imparts aren't always legal! His philosophy: “The world is a rotten place and you’ve got to find a way to be rotten if you’re going to live in it. But you also have to be smart.” While Hawley has trained Loo to be a survivor, many of the challenges she faces are because of his past mistakes. Hawley's criminal career has complicated his life and as with the timepieces he transports, "the higher the number of complications, the higher the price." Hawley left a trail of destruction and a number of loose threads behind him. The past isn't done with him yet.

Loo is an angry, violent kid. She's never felt like she belonged and has always been a target of other children. She blames herself because the "cause must be some personal defect, some missing part of herself that the others recognized, a rotting, empty hole that whistled when she walked, no matter how quiet she tried to be." She's afraid no one will ever love her and worries that she lacks the capability to be a good person. She wants to feel connected to the universe and to be a positive force rather than a destructive one. Once Loo and Hawley settle down and she begins to form bonds outside of her father, she starts to see a way to forge her own path. 

This book has so many great qualities: interesting story, unique characters, distinctive setting, and all the little details tie connect perfectly to the greater story. There are so many perfect elements, but I had a hard time getting into it. It took me several weeks to read the first third. I became invested once Lily is introduced and I had a firm grasp where the story was headed, but it lost me again in the last quarter.
(1) When there's a mythic quality or fanciful details in realistic fiction (All the Light You Cannot See, Fates & Furies), I tend to disengage.
(2) I started to dread the bullet chapters. There was something almost whimsical about Hawley's life that made the violence less affecting for me--perhaps a disconnect between tone and what was happening. The build-up to Hawley getting shot was often slow and the action-packed chapters felt long compared to Loo's coming-of-age chapters.
(3) Loo's love interest didn't really come alive for me, though I liked the part that "first love" played in her coming into her own as a young woman.

Will uncovering their family history affect the bond between Loo and her father? No matter what, Hawley is still her family. In The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, everyone seems to be fighting the same battle. All the characters have the desperate need for love and connection and are capable of great destruction in order to find it or keep it. They also struggle with past mistakes and losses. The past is never over and done with; it bleeds into the present and affects the future. Sometimes the characters' memories of the past are more vivid than the present.

I may not have been the ideal reader for this book, but it has many great qualities. I just didn't connect with it. I think it would make a great movie!
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I LOVED this book. Dark and twisted and violent and a thriller complimented with a father/daughter/coming of age story told between alternating POV and bouncing back and forth in time until it all catches up to itself. It's so well done and well written and I cannot recommend it enough.
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Really enjoyed this book!  I loved the structure.  I've read many books similar to this, where the chapters alternate between past and present, but how the author implements this was completely unique and I absolutely loved it.  The "past" chapters each hold the story of how one of the main characters (Sam Hawley, who goes by Hawley) received each of his twelve bullets.  Brilliant!

Hawley was a relatively low grade criminal, until the death of his wife changed his life forever (btw this isn't spoiler-y - you know from the start that Loo's mom is dead and it's even in the book description).  Throughout the book, you see the evolution of both Hawley as a dad and Loo as his daughter.  Loo's story is told in present day, and is sort of a coming of age story.  They both make mistakes and learn from them, and both the past and the present merge at the end of the book.  I do have to note that I both loved and hated the ending.  I loved the full circle, but I also thought the very end was a bit...vague.  That's all I'll say on the topic.  :)

Aside from the love/hate ending, I felt like some of the supporting characters in the book (the non-criminal-type) were a little too hard to believe.  Maybe it's because those parts were told from Loo's perspective, but I struggled to relate to them.  Perhaps it's been too long since I was Loo's age!
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This book was amazing.

I love the way the author intertwines the 'modern' story with the story of Samuel Hawley's past. He's scarred (physically....from a number of bullets) and as you walk through the book and see his daughter grow up you learn the back story.

Aside from the story of a troubled man who ultimately shifts gears completely out of love for his daughter, you also see her own coming of age and growing in strength.
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The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is an excellently-written story of a man who has had to learn to survive on his own at an early age, landed in heaps of trouble, and come through to care for his only daughter, Loo. The saga of Hawley's troubles unfolds through each near-death experience he's faced and the author beautifully weaves past and present together to make this story totally engrossing. Loo and Hawley are characters I will not soon forget; I highly recommend this rich and engaging read.
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I had been seeing this book mentioned everywhere before I was able to get my hands on it, and after reading it I can definitely see why there was so much hype around this book. <i>The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley</i> tells the story of father (the aforementioned Samuel Hawley) and his daughter (Loo) in chapters that alternate between the two family members. Samuel's chapters tell the story of his twelve bullet wounds while Loo's chapters tell of his discovering both who she is and who her father might be. It's a great study in what it means to be "good" and what it means to be "bad".  Tinti does a great job of creating characters that blur those lines, and readers find themselves rooting for characters that exist beyond those boundaries. 



Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC of this novel for an honest review.
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Hawley is a low-level criminal that gets himself in the worst situations, yet there is something about him that makes you want to see the positive in him. He is just a schmuck trying to give his daughter a better life than he had. The book is set up with alternating chapters taking place currently and in the past, and works really well in explaining how Hawley's daughter Loo sees the world and her father. Great writing, an enjoyable read
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“Everything breaks if you hit it hard enough.”


This novel follows the unique father-daughter relationship between Loo, a quirky teenager who had a rough-n'-tumble relationship, and Hawley, a mysterious man with a hidden past filled with regrets and mistakes. Set in the quaint New England setting of the Atlantic shore, we follow the messy nests of secrets and lies, and the criss-cross railroad tracks that this creates within the various connections in town.

Could be described as grit-lit mystery, in which the father teaches her daughter of survival skills like jumping a jar, shooting at the bullet range, etc. Loo's childhood being pretty unstable and unconventional, her transferring to seven different schools throughout her childhood. Objectively, I could recognize that Loo would have had a traditionally "better" childhood if she had stayed with her grandmother, however the things that she went through with her father was both heartbreaking and bittersweet.

How this book is set up, there is one chapter for the story behind every bullet hole that Hawley has acquired. Other chapters are alternating from Loo's POV, little vignettes of her life from twelve-years old to seventeen years old. I would dare say that this was done very successfully because I felt like we could get to know the characters much more in-depth, through their thoughts on life and their reactions of certain events.

Hawley has a peculiar way of life and tradition, where he hangs memorabilia, a type of shrine place in the bathroom, and always carries several guns wherever he goes and in whatever he packs. There's an element of grief, because Loo's mother drowned when she was just an infant.

Overall, the writing was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to experience this coming-of age story through my new favorite characters': Loo's eyes.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**
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I really enjoyed this novel. It is an interesting mix – one part literary thriller and one part coming of age novel. It tells the story of a man and his daughter – their relationship, their adventures, their pain. I really found myself swept up into this story about two very unforgettable characters.

I loved how the author wove the story together – structured through time and place as well as by the 12 bullet wounds of Samuel Hawley. I think it was ingenious to tell today’s story about Samuel and Loo while also interweaving these 12 bullet flashbacks into the narrative that fill gaps and answer questions. It was very effective! She brings everything together so wonderfully! 

The characters are so raw and real. Samuel is not a particularly good guy – he has lots of scars (physical and emotional) and he’s made a lot of bad decisions. But, his relationship with Loo really shows the full complexity of this man. That relationship is one of the highlights of this book. 
This is a gritty book with some violence so if that’s not something you’re interested in, you may want to skip this one. But, ultimately, it’s a beautifully crafted novel that I found heart breaking! I highly recommend it!
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I loved this book.  I couldn't put it down.  Beautiful writing and a beautiful story.
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Hawley has lived a transient lifestyle with his 12 year old daughter Loo, trying to protect & shield her from his criminal past and the mysterious death of her mother. When they finally settle down in the town where Loo's mother grew up, she grows curious about her mothers death. The story is told both in present tense with chapters from Hawley's past that explain just how he got those 12 bullet holes that riddle his body. Loo & Hawley's story and relationship are unique and incredibly intriguing. I enjoyed that the past chapters examined Hawley's life by bullet wounds- a truly original way to learn someone's story! I couldn't put this one down, thanks to the author, Net Galley and Random House for an ARC for this in exchange for my honest review.
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