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The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

Cover of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

A Novel
Borrow Borrow
A coming-of-age novel and a literary thrill ride about the price we pay to protect the people we love most.

"A father-daughter road trip you won't soon forget."—Richard Russo

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.
Praise for The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
"A master class in literary suspense."The Washington Post
"Tinti depicts brutality and compassion with exquisite sensitivity, creating a powerful overlay of love and pain."The New Yorker
"Hannah Tinti's beautifully constructed second novel . . . uses the scars on Hawley's body—all twelve bullet wounds, one by one—to show who he is, what he's done, and why the past chases and clings to him with such tenacity."The Boston Globe
"The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is an adventure epic with the deeper resonance of myth. . . . Tinti exhibits an aptitude for shining a piercing light into the corners of her characters' hearts and minds."O: The Oprah Magazine
"An achingly beautiful story. . . . Tinti's language is precise and beautiful. ."The Dallas Morning News
"Gripping. . . Tarantino-like in its plot twists, action, and violence, the novel sweeps across the country and back and forth in time."Interview
"The Twelves Lives of Samuel Hawley is a thrillingly told tale that touches on the mythological and the mundane with equally compelling results."BuzzFeed
"A surprising and celebratory father-daughter story told with astonishing language and scope."—BBC
"Tinti's second novel was years in the making, and well worth the wait. . . . This contemporary interpretation of the Greek myth of Hercules, whose twelve labors are represented by Hawley's twelve bullet wounds, is at once an American epic, a hardboiled crime story, and an exploration of familial love."—Otto Penzler, LitHub
"An unforgettable novel."PopSugar
"Tinti's storytelling is masterful—she weaves together dozens of beautifully drawn characters."NYLON
"Tinti knows how to blend emotional connections with engrossing plots."The Huffington Post
"Hannah Tinti proves herself to be an old-fashioned storyteller of the highest order."—Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth
A coming-of-age novel and a literary thrill ride about the price we pay to protect the people we love most.

"A father-daughter road trip you won't soon forget."—Richard Russo

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.
Praise for The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
"A master class in literary suspense."The Washington Post
"Tinti depicts brutality and compassion with exquisite sensitivity, creating a powerful overlay of love and pain."The New Yorker
"Hannah Tinti's beautifully constructed second novel . . . uses the scars on Hawley's body—all twelve bullet wounds, one by one—to show who he is, what he's done, and why the past chases and clings to him with such tenacity."The Boston Globe
"The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is an adventure epic with the deeper resonance of myth. . . . Tinti exhibits an aptitude for shining a piercing light into the corners of her characters' hearts and minds."O: The Oprah Magazine
"An achingly beautiful story. . . . Tinti's language is precise and beautiful. ."The Dallas Morning News
"Gripping. . . Tarantino-like in its plot twists, action, and violence, the novel sweeps across the country and back and forth in time."Interview
"The Twelves Lives of Samuel Hawley is a thrillingly told tale that touches on the mythological and the mundane with equally compelling results."BuzzFeed
"A surprising and celebratory father-daughter story told with astonishing language and scope."—BBC
"Tinti's second novel was years in the making, and well worth the wait. . . . This contemporary interpretation of the Greek myth of Hercules, whose twelve labors are represented by Hawley's twelve bullet wounds, is at once an American epic, a hardboiled crime story, and an exploration of familial love."—Otto Penzler, LitHub
"An unforgettable novel."PopSugar
"Tinti's storytelling is masterful—she weaves together dozens of beautifully drawn characters."NYLON
"Tinti knows how to blend emotional connections with engrossing plots."The Huffington Post
"Hannah Tinti proves herself to be an old-fashioned storyteller of the highest order."—Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Hawley

    When Loo was twelve years old her father taught her how to shoot a gun. He had a case full of them in his room, others hidden in boxes around the house. Loo had seen them at night, when he took the guns apart and cleaned them at the kitchen table, oiling and polishing and brushing for hours. She was forbidden to touch them and so she watched from a distance, learning what she could about their secrets, until the day when she blew out birthday candles on twelve chocolate Ring Dings, arranged on a plate in the shape of a star, and Hawley opened the wooden chest in their living room and put the gift she had been waiting for—­her grandfather's rifle—­into her arms.

    Now Loo waited in the hallway as her father pulled down a box of ammunition from the front closet. He took out some .22 rimfires—­long-­rifle and Magnum—­as well as nine-­millimeter Hornady 115-­grain. The bullets rattled inside their cardboard containers as he slid them into a bag. Loo took note of every detail, as if her father's choices were part of a test she would later have to pass. Hawley grabbed a bolt-­action Model 5 Remington, a Winchester Model 52 and his Colt Python.

    Whenever he left the house, Loo's father carried a gun with him. Each of these guns had a story. There was the rifle that Loo's grandfather had carried in the war, notched with kills, that now belonged to her. There was the twenty-­gauge shotgun from a ranch in Wyoming where Hawley worked for a time running horses. There was a set of silver dueling pistols in a polished wooden case, won in a poker game in Arizona. The snub-­nosed Ruger he kept in a bag at the back of his closet. The collection of derringers with pearl handles that he hid in the bottom drawer of his bureau. And the Colt with a stamp from Hartford, Connecticut, on the side.

    The Colt had no particular resting place. Loo had found it underneath her father's mattress and sitting openly on the kitchen table, on top of the refrigerator and once on the edge of the bathtub. The gun was her father's shadow. Resting in the places he had passed through. If Hawley was out of the room, sometimes she would touch the handle. The grip was made of rosewood, and felt smooth beneath her fingers, but she never picked it up or moved it from whatever place he had set it down.

    Hawley grabbed the Colt now and tucked it under his belt, then strung the rifles across his shoulder. He said, "Come on, troublemaker." Then he held open the door for them both. He led his daughter into the woods behind their house and down into the ravine, where a stream rushed over mossy rocks before emptying out into the ocean.

    It was a clear day. The leaves had abandoned their branches for the forest floor, a carpet of crimson, yellow and orange; crisp and rustling. Loo's father marked a pine tree at two hundred yards with a small spot of white paint, then set the bucket down and walked back to his daughter and the guns.

    Hawley was in his forties but looked younger, his hips still narrow, his legs strong. He was as tall as a longboat, with wide shoulders that sloped from the years of driving his truck back and forth across the country with Loo in the passenger seat. His hands were callused from the day jobs he'd work from time to time—­fixing cars or painting houses. His fingernails were lined with grease and his dark hair was always overgrown and tangled. But his eyes were a deep blue and he had a face that was rough and broken in a way that came out handsome. Wherever they had stopped on the road, whether it was for breakfast at some diner on the highway, or in a small town where they'd set up...
About the Author-
  • Hannah Tinti grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. Her short story collection Animal Crackers was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her bestselling novel The Good Thief won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and an American Library Association Alex Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Tinti is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the award-winning literary magazine One Story.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 9, 2017
    Seamlessly transposing classical myth into a quintessentially American landscape and marrying taut suspense with dreamy lyricism, Tinti’s beautifully intricate second novel is well worth the wait since 2008’s The Good Thief. As his beloved daughter, Loo, hits adolescence, longtime criminal Samuel Hawley forswears life on the run and moves with her to the coastal Massachusetts town where her late mother Lily was raised. Though father and daughter both struggle to adjust, Samuel finds a place in the town’s fishing industry as Loo experiences first love with the quirky son of environmentalists who oppose it. But the consequences of Samuel’s violent past continue unfolding, while Loo’s quest to understand the truth of her mother’s death by drowning may fracture her bond with her father forever. Alternating chapters chronicle Samuel’s past—traced through the 12 bullet wounds that scar his body—and Loo’s attempts to find an authentic self and a future. As the story lines converge, Tinti’s imagery evokes time, space, the sea, and the myth of Heracles without losing the narrative’s sure grounding in American communities and culture. This is a convincingly redemptive and celebratory novel: an affirmation of the way that heroism and human fallibility coexist, of how good parenting comes in unexpected packages, and of the way that we are marked by our encounters with each other and the luminous universe in which we dwell.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2017
    The daughter of a career criminal explores her family's past along with the family business.Loo, the hero of Tinti's second novel (The Good Thief, 2008), has spent much of her childhood living out of a suitcase with her father, Samuel, who helps steal and fence jewelry and antiques. Her mom, Lily, died under vague circumstances shortly after Loo was born, but her presence has been constant: Dad places mementos of her every place they've lived. So when their travels bring them to the Massachusetts fishing town where Lily grew up, it's time for a reckoning. Loo spends her adolescence there drawing from dad's tough-guy playbook, breaking the finger of a boy who crosses her and learning how to shoot guns and hot-wire cars. Those present-day chapters are interwoven with scenes from Samuel's criminal past--the "lives" of the title refer to the number of times he's been shot, and Tinti wittily explores each bullet for alternately comic, tragic, and thriller-ish effects. We wear our emotional pains and struggles in our bodies, Tinti means to argue, and scene to scene the novel is graceful and observant. But a dozen bullet wounds also represents a lot of metaphorical heavy lifting in addition to the other overt symbols that lard the narrative (watches, gloves, disorienting carnival rides, a whale, etc.), and at times such detail overshadows Loo's budding relationship and push and pull with Lily's mother; a subplot involving a petition to stop overfishing gets short shrift. The novel is at its strongest when it focuses on Sam and Lily or Loo, whether they're getting out of scrapes or plotting their next move. But for a story about a man who has to travel light, it carries plenty of baggage. An accomplished if overstuffed merger of coming-of-age tale and literary thriller.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2016
    Tinti's first story collection, Animal Crackers, was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award, while her debut novel, The Good Thief, was a national best seller that won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. In this second novel, 12-year-old Loo has moved to a New England fishing village where her father, Hawley, has found work. Even as Loo copes with loss--her mother has died, and she is not allowed to contact her grandmother--Hawley tries to leave behind the criminal life he led before Loo was born.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2017

    With her first novel since her Alex Award-winning The Good Thief, Tinti has produced another excellent, teen-friendly narrative, a blend of thriller and coming-of-age that's full of fascinating characters. Samuel has led a dangerous life, which began with petty crime as an adolescent and became more difficult as he grew older. He bears the scars of 12 bullets, and the story behind each injury is revealed in exciting flashbacks. Samuel and his daughter, Loo, move often to avoid enemies who are looking for him. When Loo is ready for high school, Samuel feels safe enough to settle in Loo's mother's Massachusetts hometown, where he becomes a fisherman. At school, Loo is bullied until she attacks her tormentors, and a romance with a bright classmate eases her loneliness and lightens the tense plot. She is a clever, courageous teen who surprises her father when his past catches up with him. The pace of the novel is incredibly fast, and the characters are well developed. VERDICT Tinti's deft combination of gripping action and deep characterization will attract high school readers, especially those with a literary bent.-Karlan Sick, formerly at New York Public Library

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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