Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: a Novel / Hannah Tinti, 376 pp.

Loo and her father Samuel have been on the road for twelve years, the first twelve of Loo's life.  When they decide to settle in Loo's dead mother's hometown on the New England coast, Loo makes friends (and enemies) for the first time.  Why have they been on the road all these years, packing up in the middle of the night?  Why does Loo's grandma Mabel Ridge hate her father Samuel so intensely?  Does it have something to do with the eleven bullet wounds Samuel carries on his body?

As Loo's story unfolds, we learn in alternating chapters how Samuel acquired all of his holes.  The scenes of violence are colorful and suspenseful, and the novel moves along quickly to a fairly satisfying ending.  I wanted to love this novel as much as I did the author's The Good Thief , but I couldn't warm to the characters in the same way.  But my overblown expectations shouldn't keep anyone away from this skilled and smart novel.

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