Book Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley




12 lives

About the book: 

Samuel Hawley isn’t like the other fathers in Olympus, Massachusetts. A loner who spent years living on the run, he raised his beloved 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.

Growing more and more curious about the mother she never knew, Loo begins to investigate. 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.

My Review:

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley completely mesmerized me from start to finish. I was drawn to this title because of the father-daughter story, being a self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl myself, but this novel’s main focus is telling the story of Sam Hawley. Sam is raising his daughter, Loo, alone after his wife Lily drowned when Loo was a baby. Sam and Loo have been on the run going from place to place for years until Sam decides to return to Lily’s hometown and raise Loo in one place – and try to provide her with a “normal” life. The chapters of the novel fluctuate being past and present telling both the story of Sam and Loo, as well as, flashing back to reveal Sam’s past and how he received each of his 12 bullet scars on his body.

Loo was raised around a ton of guns and taught to shoot when she was a young girl. Not only was she raised around weapons, she was also taught how to pack up what’s needed and be on the road in a moments notice until they finally return to Olympus. Loo struggles making and keeping friends and is often bullied until she decides to fight back, resulting in Loo acting a lot of anger and frustration during her adolescence. But she was also brilliant and graduated high school at 16. Loo reconnects with her maternal grandmother, Mabel, after returning to Olympus and begins to learn secrets about her mother and father’s past, as well as, her own. 

Sam is a quiet and stern man with a primary focus of raising and protecting his daughter, however, he is also stuck in the past. No matter how often they picked up and moved from hotel to hotel, apartments, and so on, Sam always recreated a shrine of sorts to Lily, by filling the bathroom with her toiletries, cosmetics, pictures, or notes that she had written. As the novel unfolds the reader gets a glimpse into Sam’s past which explains the situations in which he had been shot during his life, as well as, his own personal struggles involving right and wrong. I really loved the character of Sam. Don’t get me wrong, I am not supporting his criminal lifestyle or some things that Loo was taught or exposed to while growing up. But in spite of that, this was a man that loved his daughter more than anything and wanted nothing more for her to be safe, smart, and self-sufficient. Overall this novel was about immense and unyielding love. 

Sometimes this story was funny, sometimes it was very violent, and sometimes it was extremely heart wrenching. Regardless of which emotions were evoked in me as I read, this story grabbed me and held on tight until it was finished. I must admit, I did yell out a few four-letter words after reading the last page, left startled and confused about the ending. However, the conversation with the author at the end cleared things up for me. I still didn’t like the ending, but understood it and why it worked. 

Hannah Tinti’s writing and this incredible story about Sam and Loo is amazing. Her slow and methodic creation of Sam Hawley and how she developed it into this story demonstrates so much passion and creativity that it’s mind-boggling. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone, regardless of your typical genre preference. This is a story with rich and unique characters that you will still be thinking about long after finished reading. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley on Amazon. 

Learn more about Hannah Tinti by visiting her web page.

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