Cover Image: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

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Member Reviews

I'll be posting a full review of this book on my blog eventually as I am still enjoying the "after book glow". I do, however, want to make it clear that from the moment I opened this book and the moment I read the final line, I was hooked. The alternating chapters between father and daughter were definitely what made this book so gripping. Each of the "12 lives" work as a short story within a much larger story about family and the strength of that bond. Excellent read and excellent storytelling by Hannah Tinti.
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I’m typically not a huge fan of stories that would be categorized as “thrillers,” but this novel had me from the first pages. 

Tinti’s novel reminded me of classic Southern storytelling — there was an smoothness about the writing, easy to follow but nuanced and quality. Tough scenes were presented without apology; humor peppered the story (I laughed aloud on multiple occasions). Characters were immediately relate-able and realistic. Audiences will form a connection with several of them. I was particularly attracted to Loo, the co-protagonist of the novel.

I enjoyed the pace and structure of the novel, alternating between the life Hawley and Loo now share, and easily transitioning to reveal pieces of Hawley’s earlier years as a criminal. The past and the present are woven together nicely, each revealing more about the other as the story progresses. Hawley’s backstory ebbed and flowed and was wonderfully built, especially his relationship with Loo’s mother (dead before the novel begins) and his growing fondness towards his own daughter. One of the high points of my reading experience was the loving, delicate way relationships are described throughout.

You must respect a novelist who takes the story where it demands to go. About 96% of the way through, things began to happen to simply had to happen. I hated almost every one of those pages — I didn’t want my friends to deal with situations I’d feared were coming for some time. Yet I loved the author telling the story that had to be told, versus taking some easier way out. And the conclusion for everything was wonderfully handled.

Tinti isn’t what I’d think of as a writer of literature, but the writing throughout is solid. There are some odd word choices from time to time (that don’t seem to fit a particular character or situation), but otherwise the writing is consistent and enhances the story.

This is certainly a novelist I would read again.
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I’m not normally a reader of books with so many pages. But, I LOVED this book - it was meaty and the pages just flew by! The author is genius chronicling Hawley’s past via 12 bullet scars - chapters titled simply “Bullet Number 1”, “Bullet Number 2”, etc. The past alternates with a present in which Hawley is hoping to escape his criminal life on the lam, setting down roots in a small town where his late wife was raised. Here, he will do his best to raise daughter Loo, to give her a normal life, finding work as a fisherman. I loved both Hawley and Loo, their father-daughter dynamics and struggles to fit into this new law-abiding life. For all of Hawley’s rough edges, gun toting/stockpiling and violent past, he has a soft spot when it comes to his beloved daughter Loo. Loo is a devoted daughter with her father’s propensity for violence who does her best in turn to protect her beloved dad. Both the past and present stories are thrilling and what a great ending. This book deserves every bit of praise it has been garnering.
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We see the life of Samuel Hawley through 12 bullets and his desperate attempts to protect his teenage daughter, Loo, from the past that is coming back to haunt him.  The author does a magnificent job of juggling the two perspectives of both Samuel and Loo flawlessly throughout this book.  It's dramatic, suspenful, and flows to a satisfying conclusion.
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At turns a father-daughter road trip, a love story, a thriller, and a coming-of-age story, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti is difficult to classify. But it is well worth the read and perfect for anyone looking for a thriller with more depth than the average James Patterson or Brad Meltzer.
Tinti succeeds in weaving a heartbreaking story of love that leaps back and forth between the past and the present, revealing that we cannot escape the choices we have made.
The titular "twelve lives" refer to the twelve bullet scars Hawley received in his former life as a hired criminal. The twelve stories of how he received each scar are intertwined with events in the present which threaten to unravel the "normal" life Hawley is trying to provide his daughter, whether she wants it or not.
But more than just a coming-of-age story, this is definitely a thriller that leaves readers in suspense as they rush to the harrowing conclusion.
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Raised by her father (Samuel), adolescent girl (Loo) discovers secrets about her family's past. Why does her father have so many scars on his body? When she hears the answer, will she forgive him for his gun-slinging transgressions? Will his immense love and their past relationship be enough for her?

As a child, Loo and her father moved around a lot and Loo became accustomed to living out of their car and motel rooms. At age 11, they settled in her deceased mother's hometown. Once Loo reaches adolescence, she develops a relationship with her maternal grandmother, Mabel, and begins to discover more about her father's past and how her mother died. If she was such a strong swimmer, how did she drown in a lake with calm waters?

Even though I disapprove of how Samuel Hawley and his cohorts behaved in this book, I found myself enthralled by the story and touched by his love for his daughter. This was a touching story chock full of violence and tenderness in equal measures. 

Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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Samuel Hawley's body is marked by the scars of 12 bullet holes. Although his daughter Loo knows all about the guns Hawley surrounds himself, including how to shoot them herself, she doesn't know much about the marks on her father's body. What she does know is that for as long as she can remember, she and her father have been crisscrossing the country, never staying in one place for long. She knows that her mother died when she was a baby and that the shampoo bottles, receipts and pictures carefully arranged in their bathroom is a shrine to her. She knows that she has a grandmother that lives in Olympus, Massachusetts and when she is 12, she and her father finally make an attempt at a fixed life there. As Loo grows up, more and more of her father's past is revealed to her and she doesn't know what to make of what she discovers until an old friend of her father's goes missing at sea after an extended stay with the small family of two.
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To begin reading a galley of a book and fall in love instantly is one type of bliss filled experience that contains equal parts misery as it cannot even be shared with others!  Your friends don’t have access to the title until its publication day and then, even if they do run out to their nearest independent bookstore to buy it, you must wait patiently for them to read the thing- which seems to take forever.  I can’t even…

That said, I’m incredibly grateful to The Dial Press for letting me read this book prior to it’s publication and to Parnassus Books, particularly Catherine Bock, for selecting this book as the April pick for the Parnassus First Edition Club!  Not only did I get to start reading it before publication,  I now own a signed copy!!!

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley follows Loo and her dad, Samuel, as they hop from town to town, running from trouble, before finally settling in Olympus, Massachusetts- her late mother’s hometown.  Loo’s childhood is less than idyllic and the chapters alternate between the present day in Olympus and Samuel’s past- illuminating the story behind each of his twelve bullet wounds.

I enjoyed this book because the characters were fully formed and the text well written and yet there was an incredible plot launching you ahead- a rare find in literary fiction.  One review called it a “literary thriller”- I need to research that term more because that is exactly what I need more of in my life.   Had I not been traveling so much in recent weeks, I would have finished this in a day!  It’s really that good!

Now my desperate plea: if you are my friend, sign up for NetGalley so we can talk!!!  Thank you for your cooperation on this matter!
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The bond between Samuel Hawley and is daughter Loo is strong, almost unbreakable. Each chapter of this story turns from present to past, and back again. The raising of loo by a strong single father. Loo trying to find her way in the constant moving  world of her fathers misdeeds.
  Loo's faith in her father is tested, unaware of what her father does for a living. When they first finally settle down in her Mothers home town. Her confusion grows, when her limited contact with her maternal Grandmother Mabel. Mabel hate Loo's father and blames him for Loo's mothers death. Loo's own distant memories of her Grandmother's house, lead to more questions about her own life and the death of her Mother.  
 As Loo's chapters lead forward, Hawley's go back to his beginning. The life that took a turn forever when he met Jove. Foever linked in crime and bad decisions. With each part of his life there is a story and a  scar.
  Follow this pair to an amazing, exciting end, where anything can happen.
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Absolutely enthralled with this book! 
Samuel Hawley bears the scars of having been shot 12 times and the stories behind those scars causes him and his young daughter Loo to live motel to motel. In a wonderful duality, the story describes those scar-causing occasions while interspersing them with the current lives of Hawley and Loo and her coming of age in her complex surroundings. We're taken back and forth between an untraditional attempt of a father keeping his daughter safe and Hawley's complex past. The two collide in a final chapter that is well worth the angst caused by the dysfunction of the characters. Move this one to the top of the TBR pile!
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The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti is the story of a father and daughter on a path to the past. Louise “Loo” Hawley is 12 years ago at the start of the story when her father teaches her to shoot a gun just as he taught her mom. Her mom died when she was very little and they have been living on the road ever since. Until one day, her father, Samuel “Hawley”, decides to move to Olympus, Massachusetts, her mother’s hometown. There they met her grandmother, her mother’s mother, Mabel and they are not welcome. Soon they “settle in” as Hawley gets a job and Loo attends school. Soon trouble starts for both of them and they are seen as the outcasts in town. Loo soon makes friends with a local boy and she begins to visit her grandmother and learns the truth about her past and her mother’s death. Will Loo confront her father with what she has learned? Will she be able to understand her father’s reasoning?
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is a great story about life, love and difficult choices. In the story, you see that Hawley truly loves his daughter and deeply mourns his wife. But he has only lived one life: a life on the road and a life on the edge. Loo is a rough and rumble type of girl having been raised on the road. The reader watches as she learns the truth about her past and experiences new feelings and situations. I highly recommend The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. The story moves back and forth in time as we learn what type of life Hawley has led and the road that brought him to the present. 

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
is available on Amazon
in hardcover and on the Kindle
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The Need to Know: An epic adventure, Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores how we get to where we are and how we love our family, sins, foibles, and all.


The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley opens with Samuel Hawley teaching his 12-year-old daughter, Loo, how to shoot a gun. This small chapter tells us so much about the characters and the secrets that Tinti will reveal about their lives. 

​First of all, Samuel taught Loo’s mother, Lily, how to shoot guns. This is our first mention of Lily, who has been dead since Loo was an infant and who is the subject of a “traveling shrine that her [Loo’s] father re-created in the bathroom of each place they lived.” She’s held up on a pedestal to Loo and used as an example of behavior that Loo should always strive to emulate. “When Loo did something well, her father said: Just like your mother, and when she did something bad, her father said: Your mother would never approve.”
 
Second, this is our first mention of guns, which come to be a fairly substantial part of the book. We’re told from the opening chapter that Hawley has lots of guns which he travels with, and he “was always watching. Always waiting.”
 
Samuel and Loo stop travelling the country to move to Olympus, Massachusetts, where Lily was from. Tinti intersperses their present life in Massachusetts with tales from the Hawley family’s past, including how Samuel got the many bullet holes which riddle his body and how Lily died. This is really where we learn some of their secrets, and how Samuel and Loo learn that the person that someone is now isn’t always the person they were before or the person they’ll be later.  
 
When the moment of reckoning comes for the Hawley family, when Hawley’s past comes knocking, Tinti beautifully and powerfully delivers an ending that brings this glorious epic to a close.
 
The plot that I’ve provided here just doesn’t do this book justice. There are many scenes in the book which are action-heavy, but most of all I loved Tinti’s characterization and gorgeous language. Tinti is an excellent writer who weaves words and sentences together into rapturous prose.
 
Take this sentence about a whale: “The creature rolled sideways, a rotating school bus, and lifted its pectoral fin high in the air and then spun it easily and dove, showing the full running slick of its long back, until there was only the fluke rising, the tail’s ragged edge flecked with white, bending and scraping the surface of the heavens and then plunging deep into the earth.”
 
If you read this book, you’ll love it. 

**I received my complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley, but all opinions expressed here are my own.
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This novel has gotten a ton of pre-publication hype and two fellow bloggers whose tastes I usually agree with loved it (Novel Visits, It’s Tara Leigh). It was also marketed as a coming of age novel / thriller, which sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley was just okay for me and I’m having trouble understanding all the hype.

The story alternates between Loo and Samuel navigating life in Olympus (the “coming of age” portion of the story) and chapters explaining each one of Samuel’s twelve bullet scars (the “thriller” portion of the story), with the two threads converging towards the end. I enjoyed the coming of age aspect (Loo/Samuel sections) of this structure, but after multiple “thriller” chapters (i.e. the bullet sections), I started to get bored with all the violence. With an exception or two, these chapters seemed senseless and the stories began to run together in my head. By the 75% mark, I began skimming just to find out how things would end.
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Every journey from childhood to adulthood has its own ups and downs. The voyage through adolescence is fraught no matter who, where or when you are. That uniqueness is a source of fascination that has led to the proliferation of the coming-of-age story. Innumerable literary luminaries have offered up their own tales about growing up.

But perhaps none have done so in quite so mesmerizing a manner as Hannah Tinti in her new novel “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley,” the story of a young girl growing up in a small Massachusetts fishing town with a father whose stoic eccentricities of the present mask a shadowy and brutal past.

Loo (short for Louise) has just turned 12. She has spent most of her life as a nomad, moving from place to place along with her haunted, hunted father. She has no memories of her mother, who died when Loo was just a baby; all she’s got are the artifacts that her father sets up almost as a shrine in every home they occupy.

That changes when her father Samuel Hawley buys a house in the small town of Olympus. For the first time, Loo is allowed to settle into a place – a place that just happens to be the town in which her mother Lily grew up.

And so too does Loo grow up. All the while, her father continues to be an enigma to those around him. He’s a loner whose massive collection of guns and constant vigilance hint at a life spent in the grey area between right and wrong (or at the very least, legal and illegal). His body sports scars from a dozen bullet wounds; 12 markers of painful memories.

As Loo gets older, she finds herself wondering more and more about her mother. She tries to uncover the full truth that her reticent father seems reluctant to give her. And as the mystery deepens, so does the danger; she’s left wondering just how well she knows the man who has given his life to raise her.

“The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” is laid out in alternating chapters. Half the time, we’re watching Loo as she makes her way toward adulthood, dealing with difficulties both typical and not-so-much. The other half, however, is something very different – it’s the story of Samuel Hawley’s scars. Essentially, we get a blow-by-blow of Hawley’s criminal past, one that saw him move from small-time crime into the big time … and the subsequent consequences when things went awry.

Samuel Hawley’s story is undeniably compelling, a modern version of the 12 Labors of Hercules from Greek myth. From the recklessness of his youth to his well-meaning efforts to escape the bonds of his past indiscretions, each of the 12 offers us a deeper, more thorough look at the psyche of a man who, having lost the love of his life, chooses to devote his particular set of skills toward raising his daughter as best he can, all while silently, stoically aching for the wife that he lost.

But it is Loo’s journey that sets this story to soaring. The idea of this young girl, trapped in the net of her father’s past through no fault of her own, trying to find her place in a world that views both her and her father as outsiders. She’s smart and engaging while also offering brief moments where it becomes clear that she is very much her father’s daughter. Her struggles to fit are only exacerbated by the life she has led, but through it all, there’s an indefatigable spirit that rings true in even the most extreme circumstances.

Tinti has created something unique here, a combination of coming of age story, thriller and familial drama that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does. That’s a credit to her talents; she spins this complex and ever-shifting narrative with an easy clarity, letting the moments she creates – and the juxtaposition between the two tales she’s telling – unfold at precisely the right speed.

“The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” is a masterful piece of storytelling, creating a wonderful balance between the sins of the past and the truths of the present. There’s a sophisticated emotional rawness binding it all together that will resonate long after the final page is turned. Smart, haunting and dynamic, it makes for a fantastic read.
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In The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, writer Hannah Tinti has created a very unique novel that encompasses many genres.  Through it, we follow the life of Loo from the ages of twelve to seventeen, who has been moved from hotel to hotel her entire life until age twelve --many times in the dead of night--always on the run, and her father, Samuel.  Everywhere they stop, Samuel creates a shrine for Loo's deceased mother through photos and objects.  Loo becomes more and more curious to learn about her mother, and about how her father received the twelve bullet wounds on the different parts of his body.  The writing in this novel is beautiful, and the characters as well-developed as the bond of love between father and daughter, but it was painful to read and quite violent.  Redemptive while also being incredibly depressing.  So much so that although it kept me turning pages, I was also saddened by the unrelenting array of characters who had no respect for other human beings or their worth.
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This book is about mainly a father and a daughter and their intricate relationship. Samuel Hawley is your typical bad boy who has lived a dangerous lifestyle and is now responsible for raising his daughter Loo. Samuel Hawley is trying to start anew in raising his daughter and in not letting his past catch up with him, and in making sure his daughter Loo is raised properly and does not get into the trouble he did.
     Overall I rated this book five stars out of five. This was an excellent book that I cannot speak more highly about. The character development was superb and in depth. This was definitely one heart breaker of a book, but it was inspiring and bittersweet at the same time. Reading about the relationship between Samuel Hawley and his daughter Loo was tearing me up it was so raw. This book pulled me in from the first page all the way to the end. 
     I would like to thank Netgalley, Hannah Tinti, and Random House Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Samuel Hawley has been shot twelve times; his skin bears the scars of each wound and they serve to remind him of his mistakes, his regrets. He does not, however, regret the circumstances that provided him with his daughter, Loo, who has been in his care since childhood; the two of them make a great team. Loo would love to know more of her past, of her father's story, and that's where things get interesting, emotionally raw, and breathtaking. 

"Their hearts were all cycling through the same madness - the discovery, the bliss, the loss, the despair - like planets taking turns in orbit around the sun. Each containing their own unique gravity. Their own force of attraction. Drawing near and holding fast to whatever entered their own atmosphere."

For the first quarter of the novel, I questioned whether I'd be able to stick with The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley; it seemed to drag a little bit and I wasn't sure if it would be worth the time/pages. Trust me when I say that it is! The reward is the beauty found in this novel's second half. 

After a shaky start, I ended up awarding five stars to The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (it may end up one of my favorites for the year), which was completely unexpected. With an emotionally moving and magnificent story, I will definitely recommend it to many others!
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The story is about Samuel Hawley and his life living outside the law.  Once he becomes a father, he wants a better life for his daughter, Loo.  Hawley struggles to hide from his past which always seems to catch up to him. 

There were many things I really liked about this book -- the characters, the suspense, the writing, the  and especially the way the story unfolded.  I did struggle,however, with the amount of violence in the book and the way several the characters fell in and out of trouble which didn't seem as believable to me.  In many ways, Hawley was like a cat surviving more close calls with death than anyone should.  The relationships in the book, in particular the father-daughter connection and Samuel Hawley's love for his wife, gave the book much depth.   The story line was very intricate and well -developed. For many parts of the book, I couldn't wait to get back to reading it to find out what would happen next.  I would have rated it higher if I could have believed that the characters didn't realize sooner that their deeds would catch up to them and  if I could have believed one could survive so many near death events.
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This is a very well written book with well-developed characters. When I started it I wasn't sure I was up to finishing it but became enthralled with the characters and where the story was headed. Hawley and Loo are quite real, plausible characters. A very good read!
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4 or 4.5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of Samuel, a single father raising his teenage daughter, Loo. They never stay in one place for long, always picking up and moving before they ever get settled anywhere. We don't know why exactly, but we see the strong bond between father and daughter and I found Samuel easy to love and admire.

Samuel has a number of scars that he's had for as long as Loo can remember and the story alternates between the present day and tales of how he came by each scar. It was a very effective method of letting the reader gradually come to understand what kind of person Samuel was, how he came to be the man he is, and the circumstances that require their frequent moves. Not that the book is all about Samuel--it's also Loo's coming of age story: an unusual girl from an unusual background trying to find her place in the world.

Moving and thoroughly enjoyable!

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC of this book.
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