Monday, 8 April 2013

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
 
 
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
Published 17 January 2013 Hutchinson
 
 
I put this book on my TBR list after reading about it in The Bookseller.
 
Hattie Shepherd is fifteen, newly married and bound for Philadelphia with husband August, full of dreams of a new life. Her story spans sixty years. Sixty years of heartbreak, hardship and loss.
 
This is not a cheerful read, I was welling up at the first chapter (read the book and you will see why...). The book is a snapshot of social history in 20th century America. It depicts Hattie's life, and the lives of many other women of the time who suffered the same, or worse.
 
Oprah Winfrey likens it to Toni Morrison and says "I can't remember when I read anything that moved me quite this way...".

The tragic events (child death, infidelity, illness, war) happening to the Shepherd family were told in a very matter-of-fact way. I would be sitting open mouthed at an occurrence and the book would stream into another family tale. This shows these events as common occurrences - that they have happened before and will happen again. Very sad, very human, very powerful.

Ayana was born in Philadelphia and has written since she was a child.


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