The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

Synopsis: (as told by the back of 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.

A coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller that weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is an unforgettable story about the cost we pay to protect the people we love the most.

Morgan’s thoughts:

This novel is less of a thriller and more of an adventure story and I absolutely adored it.  I was quickly swept away by Loo’s life and Samuel’s past.  The structure of the book is unique and perfectly suited for the tale it is telling – Tinti alternates immersing you in Loo’s now and sprinkling in bits and pieces of Samuel’s then.  Loo is simultaneously a lovable and imperfect character.  She struggles with many character flaws, the most intense being an anger management problem, but I was never not on her side.

Samuel’s love story has a tone that is quite similar to that of Baby and Debora’s in Baby Driver (and now that I’ve written that, I want to watch that move again).  It’s fast paced and an all-or-nothing kind of love.  Samuel is also imperfect; he struggles with the initial pressure of being a dad.  But his love for Loo and her love for him shines through all of the chaos.  Loo and Samuel are an unconventional family, but I’d recommend this story for any girls who love their dad, any fathers who love their daughters, or any other literary adventure seekers.

Read this if you liked Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl or are looking for the right combination of literary merit and exciting adventure. It won’t disappoint.

Interested in this book?  Click here to buy it on Amazon or find it at your local independent bookstore.

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