Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Title:  The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Author:  Ayana Mathis
Publication Information: Alfred A. Knopf, Random House Inc. 2012. 243 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on its publicity as the Oprah Book Club pick. The book came as a hardcover edition from the library.

Favorite Quote:  "It seemed to him that every time he made one choice in his life, he said no to another. All of those things he could not do or be were huddled inside of him; they might spring up at any moment, and he would be hobbled with regret."

Hattie Shepard is a child of the South. At age fifteen in 1923, Hattie leaves Georgia to seek a better life in Pennsylvania. She marries a man named August with hopes for a bright future. Unfortunately, that does not come to pass. In addition, her firstborn twins pass away because of a lack of medicine. Hattie goes on to have nine more children and works hard to instill in them the discipline and strength she feels are necessary to survive in a challenging world.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, as the title suggests, follows the stories of Hattie and, turn by turn, her children. To some extent, reading each section is like reading an independent story. The characters carry over from one to the other. However, the focus of each is so definitely one character that the commonality between them seems less relevant.

Unfortunately, because of this structure, I found myself not being able to really vest in any of the characters or develop that sense of emotional connection. By the time I started to feel a connection, the section ended and I felt like I moved on to a brand new story.

Each of the individual stories in and of itself is sad and depressing. So, at the end, I am left with a set of depressing stories -  not really something I want to spend time with. I am glad to be done and ready to move on.

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