Monday, 27 March 2017

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

Book Review

The 12 Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"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."

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley will be released on 6th April. It is written by Hannah Tinti and published by Tinder Press.

Wow, I loved this book. It's a little bit Tarantino and a little bit coming of age story. I know I'm not the first person to reference Tarantino when talking about The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley but the violence, beauty and characters really reminded me of his films. Yet, dare I say it, a little better written?


After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter, Loo, to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife's hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother's mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past; a past that eventually spills over into his daughter's present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. This father-daughter epic weaves back and fourth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks.

Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores what it means to be a hero, and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.

The story sucks you in right away. The flash backs to the 12 bullets that Samuel Hawley has received over his lifetime is a great way of telling Hawley, and Loo's, story, interweaving it with current events.

Although, after a while I did start to wonder if he was just a really bad criminal, surely skilled criminals don't get shot so much!

It might put you off when I describe The Twelve Lives of Samual Hawley as a bit Tarantino, but it is well written. Yes, in parts it does get a bit silly and the sceptical would be thinking 'would that really happen' but you have to go with it. It's equal parts fun and also sensitively written. Tinti paints an interesting picture of people coping with grief and anger.

Hawley could have quite easily been a cliche; the crook with a heart, but he's brought to life well by Tinti and becomes a more than a stereotype. He's mysterious, heartbreaking, terrifying, slightly over the top but also very human.

I liked Loo as well (although in the UK her name means toilet so that made me chuckle to myself). She's angry, but hers is not the typical 'angry teenager' story which I must admit I've grown out of. Tinti is good at writing from a teenage point of view but making it palatable for adults.

Be warned, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is very sad in parts, I wouldn't describe it as a weepy, too many guns for that, but it definitely got me choked up.

Speaking of guns, there is a lot of violence in the book; some people won't like it but I didn't think it was ridiculously over the top, the story is about a violent criminal, so it's going to be in there.

Overall I just really enjoyed The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, and I'm wondering if anyone has sent it to Tarantino to option yet.

My Rating: 4/5

I received a digital copy of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks to the publisher and author.

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