arc, book review, contemporary, lit fic, lit fic and general fic

Book Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (New Release 3/28/17)

Because this is a new release, I feel it is fair to start with the book blurb so you have an idea of what we are getting into. This is a contemporary/thriller adult lit book, but it also features a female teen protagonist so it has elements of a coming-of-age story as well. I see how it can have crossover potential for mature older teens.

Anyway, blurb:

30556459A father protects his daughter from the legacy of his past and the truth about her mother’s death in this thrilling new novel from the prize-winning author of The Good Thief.

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 forth 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.


First off, I loved this book. I thought it was beautiful and gritty in all the right ways. The dynamic of the father with a dark past and the teen daughter coming of age was achingly good. The tale covers several years of Loo’s life with her father Samuel, and also years before. Samuel’s goal is to prepare Loo for a future that may not be perfect, sort of street survivalist education. Hot wiring cars, firing guns… it’s all in there.

I think my favorite part of the book was the ease of the heart-filled writing. Tinti has a practiced style that draws you in to her imagery and world with all of your senses. And more than that, her structure of this story is intriguing as well in that she has built it around Samuel’s many scars.

The marks on her father’s body had always been there. He did not show them off to Loo but he did not hide them, either. They reminded her of the craters on the moon that she studied at night with her telescope. Circles made from comets and asteroids that slammed into the cold, hard rock because it had no protective atmosphere. 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.” 

Through each of their moments together, you can feel the love between them. This book is one dripping with respect, a binding sort of unbreakable love, pain, regret, swelling bittersweetness… it is bound to move you in some way. And though I feel like I have read several books where the protagonist’s return to the hometown of the mother that is no longer in the picture (either because she is wayward, deceased or otherwise), it still felt fresh and explored in new ways that I hadn’t quite seen yet.

Highly recommended read. Take your time with it, let it build, and enjoy.

Tinti eCard 3.jpg

Note: Thank you to NetGalley and Dial Press for a copy of this ARC in exchange for a review. This in no way impact my opinion of the book. 

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