Tuesday 6 August 2019

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

Finished July 25
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti, narrated by Elizabeth Wiley

This novel moves back and forth between the lives of Samuel and his daughter Loo, as they settle in the small town of Olympus, Massachusetts years after the death of Samuel's wife Lily, and Samuel's past.
Samuel has a shrine to Lily in their washroom. Everything she left behind from grooming products and cosmetics to slips of paper she wrote lists on is there. Loo is used to it. The shrine has gone with them as they travelled around the country, always moving suddenly, and taking little with them. One thing that has gone with them is Samuel's collection of guns, from his father's rifle to a variety of handguns and long guns. He looks after them, and Loo knows how to use them as well.
Their lives in Olympus are quiet, except for occasional conflicts with locals. Loo doesn't really fit in, and doesn't really want to. Samuel makes a quiet living fishing and gathering shellfish at low tide. As we see Loo grow from a tween to a life after high school, we see their relationship change as Loo tries to have her own secrets and gradually learns those of her father.
Loo's grandmother lives in Olympus, her mother's mother, and this relationship develops very slowly as well.
The twelve lives of the title are represented by the bullet wounds in Samuel's body, and we gradually learn through his history where and how he came by each one, learning also what his life has been, and how he came to meet Lily, and what happened to her.
This is a story of families, of the difficulty of escaping one's past, and of the constant hope for a better future. A very interesting read.

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