Sunday 19 May 2013

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Windmill Books First Pass-It-On Book group.

On the 25th March (a little while ago I know) I was chosen to start the publisher Windmill Books first pass-it-on book group. The reason this came about was they asked you to email them as reason why you thought you should be the first person to start it. I told them about how books are what make my heart beat a little faster and what I really look forward to in my day. Also how I want others to see and feel what I see and feel when I read a book- the joy of stepping into another world.

Here is my review of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis that I sent to Windmill Books:

The first chapter of the book introduced me to the main character Hattie as her 17-year old, newly married self and her fairly new-born twins, Philidelphia and Jubilee. She had moved from the troublesome South to the prosperous North of America in the hope of living the American dream.
Each subsequent chapter focuses on one of the nine children she goes on to have after her twins – giving the reader a small insight into that child at different stages of their life, and sometimes during key events in American history.

This novel left me wanting more, it was like a series of stories about each character, but how they all link back to Hattie and how they all craved the love that she could never quite seem to give. Hattie seemed to have strong impact on the way each of her children’s lives turned out and why they chose the path they did.

Through each chapter the author reveals more and more about Hattie and we begin to understand why she was so hard on her children and why she never seemed happy. In each stage of the book I felt a different emotion about Hattie. Sometimes I felt sorry for her, disliked her, got annoyed and frustrated with her.  These are the types of emotions that Hattie’s children went through, ‘She had never been so afraid of anyone, the way she was afraid of her Mother, she had never been so angry…never wanted anyone to love her as much as she wanted Hattie’s love’.
I think what struck me the most about this book was the author’s way of instantly invoking exactly the right emotion and understanding in the reader,‘They thought of the white people as a vague but powerful entity- like forces that control the weather, that capable of destruction, that hidden from view’. It was her description that made the book seem so real and alive to me. Sometimes I would have to re-read a sentence just to to savour her words. She captures the fragility of the human soul and helps the reader to understand what each character is thinking even when what they are doing is not favourable.

Although there was a lot of sadness in this novel, it was not altogether an unhappy novel. It just showed the need that each of us has to find love and happiness and that how none of us is perfect. I went from disliking Hattie to admiring her, and from the first chapter I was hooked. It is a story that I believe everyone should read and will be recommending it.

I signed my name, location and date onto the Ex Libris page like all the members will do. I hope to see it fill up :)


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