The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

Samuel Hawley is a very violent man. I say this because he will still hurt someone if they in any way harm his adored 12 year old daughter Loo. But to be fair to the man, his extreme villainy and violence were conducted in his past. A past which becomes more and more important as the story progresses.

cover of The twelve lives of Samuel Hawley

Samuel and Loo have returned to Olympus, Massachusetts,  the home of Loo’s late mother.  They’re trialling settling in one place after a lifetime of changing motel rooms and schools for Loo.

Loo, it must be said, is one tough customer and deals with her problems a bit like her old man. She is aware her Grandmother lives in Olympus but is warned to have nothing to do with her by Samuel. This is the only  person apart from her Dad who knew her late Mum well and she is desperate to know more about her.

Loo finds herself going through the few things left of her Mother, a photo and toiletries, for clues of her Mum. These have been set up shrine-like,  by Samuel in every motel they have holed up in.  Its been a peripatetic lifestyle and has made Loo tough and self sufficient but she is still struggling with school, socialising and wanting to know more about her Mum. She is growing up and starting to question Samuel’s past. He is constantly aware that it could come back to haunt him, wants to stay and give Loo a steady life, but he can’t stop looking over his shoulder.

There is a lot of  going back and forth in time in this story.  How did Samuel end up with 12 bullet hole scars in his body? 12 Bullet holes and still alive?!  Some history!  Why does he carry a small armoury in his truck? Could his way of life as a young man and the death of her daughter be why Loo’s Grandmother is so determined to have nothing to do with them?

I found Samuel’s surviving 12 bullets slightly implausible.  A good read but not one that gripped me.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
by Hannah Tinti
Published by Hachette New Zealand
ISBN: 9781472234360

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