The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (Hannah Tinti)


After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter Loo to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past – a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. Both a coming of age novel and a literary thriller, THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY explores what it means to be a hero, and the price we pay to protect the people we love most.

This novel had one of the most wonderful beginnings I’ve read in quite some time. As soon as I started reading The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, I knew it would be a highly unique story. Hours later, I had finished it and I knew I had been right: I had never read something quite like this. However, my initial delight wasn’t always present, as I admit I struggled a bit because of its length.

I wouldn’t say this is a mystery; it’s more like a coming of age story and a contemporary action thriller: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is a tale about family, loneliness and fitting in. The writing by Hannah Tinti is brilliant and the characters are simply unforgettable. I think we can expect a film sometime in the next few years.

Who are the main characters? Let’s introduce you to Samuel Hawley and Loo (father and daughter). They’ve just moved to Olympus, Massachusetts and they’re having a hard time fitting in. Years pass (Loo is twelve at first and seventeen in the last chapter) while we’re witness of their struggles and endless adventures. At the same time, there are some flashback chapters where we learn about Samuel’s 12 lives (bullet scars that he carries on his body). Initially, I thought this flashbacks were a great idea, but the more I read, the more these parts felt repetitive. For once, I was more interested in the present story, especially Loo’s “coming of age”.

As I said, Loo was simply amazing (independent, strong and complex) and, even though we didn’t get to know her that much, Mabel Ridge was also a character I wanted to know more about. The mystery surrounding Loo’s mother, Lily, was one of my favorite aspects of the book. And I appreciated how the author made no excuses for anyone’s behavior. After all, when you love someone, you’re able to overlook their mistakes… Blood is thicker than water.

In the end, I think I will remember this book because there’s something quite special about it. It hasn’t been my favorite read of the year, but I’m not sure I’ll read something quite like it anytime soon. And that’s not something you can say often.

Buy Here

Netgalley, Tinder Press, 2017


24 thoughts on “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (Hannah Tinti)

  1. Renee (Itsbooktalk) says:

    Excellent review Annie! I know we talked a little about our thoughts on this one, my review (coming up sat) echos yours about the bullet chapters vs present day…I really wanted to focus on the present and I loved the mystery surrounding Lily’s death. I also loved the characters, in fact, when I wrote my review I realized I actually loved just about everything about this book and bumped my rating up to 5 stars:) it would make an awesome movie for sure…if you want to dm me sometime let’s cast it😊


  2. Susie | Novel Visits says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book Annie. I also felt that a couple of the bullet chapters dragged a little, but felt that the rest were really what put Samuel in Olympus with Loo. The writing was so good and I just loved both Samuel and Loo. Nice review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Donna says:

    I always get the feeling you’re perfect to find the right stories to be turned into movies 😀 Fab review! I was surprised by the span of the story, from 12 to 17, so much happens! I’m glad the characterization and the mystery about the mother kept you interested. Sometimes a book isn’t the best, but it sticks with you because it has “something” 🙂


  4. Amanda @Cover2CoverMom says:

    Ooooo I love this cover so much more than the other edition!!! I’ve been seeing reviews pop up for this one a lot recently (obviously because it just released) and I think the general consensus is that it is a very unique book.

    “Initially, I thought this flashbacks were a great idea, but the more I read, the more these parts felt repetitive. For once, I was more interested in the present story…”

    Whoa! This NEVER happens to me… You have me very interested now.


  5. Diana says:

    Just from reading Renee’s review of this book. It seems like the past narrations didn’t work out in this one. I usually enjoy the past narrations especially in thrillers but the monotony in this one explains why it didn’t work out.Sounds like an interesting read otherwise.


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