Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Go Read This Now: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

I received an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had not heard of Hannah Tinti before. I hadn't gotten onto her bandwagon after the publication of her second novel, The Good Thief, in 2008. But then I heard Michael Kindness (of Books On The Nightstand fame) rave about The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley on the Drunk Book Club podcast late last year as one of the most anticipated books of 2017.

I quickly signed onto my Netgalley account and got myself an advanced copy, which I proceeded to devour while vacationing in Taiwan in February. And all I can say is wow!

Part coming of age story, part gritty crime drama, Tinti's novel follows the story of Samuel Hawley and his teenage daughter Loo. Quickly we find out that Samuel's body is decorated by twelve bullet wounds that reveal a dark and violent past, one that Loo has no recollection of but desperately wants to find out about. Tinti takes us from past to present, slowly revealing the story behind each of Samuel's wounds and Loo's persistent search for the truth about her father, her deceased mother, and why her childhood was filled with constant running away only to return to her mother's home village. Slowly, the two worlds come to a head, as Samuel must confront his past choices and their consequences.

Almost cinematic in scope and pace, Tinti still keeps her literary sensibilities, using deeply moving prose to explore the regret that is permanently etched onto Samuel and the bewilderment and resentment he has passed on to a daughter. Yet, Tinti does not get bogged down in her words, able to move the plot forward, keeping the reader turning the page, and ending with a more than satisfying conclusion.

Tinti is a marvelous writer and she has given us a captivating story about violence, death, youth, renewal and reckoning. There are a few stellar books worth picking up this spring, make sure that the Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is one of them.

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