The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Book - 2012
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'The opening pages of Ayana's debut took my breath away. I can't remember when I read anything that moved me quite this way, besides the work of Toni Morrison.' Oprah Winfrey

Fifteen years old and blazing with the hope of a better life, Hattie Shepherd fled the horror of the American South on a dawn train bound for Philadelphia.

Hattie's is a tale of strength, of resilience and heartbreak that spans six decades. Her American dream is shattered time and again: a husband who lies and cheats and nine children raised in a cramped little house that was only ever supposed to be temporary.

She keeps the children alive with sheer will and not an ounce of the affection they crave. She knows they don't think her a kind woman - but how could they understand that all the love she had was used up in feeding them and clothing them.

How do you prepare your children for a world you know is cruel?

The lives of this unforgettable family form a searing portrait of twentieth century America. From the revivalist tents of Alabama to Vietnam, to the black middle-class enclave in the heart of the city, to a filthy bar in the ghetto, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is an extraordinary, distinctive novel about the guilt, sacrifice, responsibility and heartbreak that are an intrinsic part of ferocious love.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2012
Edition: 1st Cdn. ed
ISBN: 9780091944186
Branch Call Number: MAT
Characteristics: 243 p. ;,23 cm


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Oct 17, 2017

I stopped reading this about 30% in. I just didn't care.

Cynthia_N Sep 12, 2016

I could not really connect with the main character. I understood the issues she was dealing with but she was still not a likeable character.

Jun 17, 2015

Sad story of controlling mother & her 11 children & 1 grandchild. Discusses sorrowful yet contemporary issues and effect on adult children. Sensitive and realistic presentation of complex mental health issue and effect on grandchild. If you need a good cry, read this book.

Chapel_Hill_KenMc Mar 24, 2015

Sweeping historical saga that tracks the challenges and triumphs of a dispersed family descended from slaves.

Karaelena Nov 04, 2014

Beautiful and tragic story. I loved her writing style. Each chapter told from a different view of each child. Will defintely look out for other titles from Ayana.

librarylizzard Feb 24, 2014

I started this on the recommendation of a colleague, but didn't get past the first 3 "stories". First, Hattie's twins die of pneumonia. Then, far in the future, her jazz-playing son questions his sexuality. By the time her badly burned and disfigured son wrestles with his faith and chosen path as a preacher I was longing for a different story. I don't often give up on books halfway, but I couldn't wait to swap this for something else. It just wasn't my kind of book. Sorry, Ayana Mathis!

Dec 16, 2013

Thank goodness for the hopeful ending!

Nov 07, 2013

I agree with most of the comments so far. Mathis chose an interesting format for the narrative, and I love the idea of telling a family's story through chapters in each member's voice; however, I too kept waiting for ONE glimmer of hope-- to no avail. It's hard to read (and believe) failure after failure, tragedy after tragedy... one needs a little joy here and there! Mathis' frame allowed her to span decades and portray her characters in various historical times and places, but the novelty of the structure wore off when I realized that all of my rooting for the title character and her family wouldn't make their lives any brighter. I closed the book and, before I said anything about its quality, said, "That was incredibly depressing."

This is a slog to read and does not resonate with any experience in my life. Parents of 12 children are inadequate. I was depressed reading this story and found it has no redeeming insights

Aug 19, 2013

Yes, the writing is very good, which redeems the fact that this book is so unrelievedly dismal. I like stories about people facing challenges, but when none of the forteen characters in this book manage to overcome their problems and build a happy and satisfying life it is just too depressing and in my opinion not realistic.

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Jul 09, 2015

cesmomma thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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Jul 13, 2015

I enjoyed this book. It was recommended for the Summer Reading Program. It is a quick reads and holds the readers attention.


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