Fiction · History · Julia P · Page-Turner · Relationships

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie | by Ayana Mathis

The Twelve Tribes of HattieThe Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
(Knopf, 2012, 256 pages)

This title was selected as the second selection in Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. It was also selected for my personal book club and I was excited to read it. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie ended up far exceeding my expectations. I loved it. The centralized figure in the story is Hattie – she came to Philadelphia in 1923 at the age of 15 as part of the Great Migration. She grew up there and raised nine children. The story is told as twelve different narratives focusing on Hattie’s children. We are introduced to them at different times in their lives and the story progresses from 1925 – 1980.

It was an interesting approach to take for a novel but I think it worked beautifully. Despite being short entries for each character you still got an amazing feel for who they were and the role that Hattie played in the lives of each of her children. You also learn a great deal about how Hattie came to be the woman she was in the context of the life she ended up leading. I loved the book and it’s one of those novels you could reread and find more and more things to reflect on and talk about. It’s not a long book, but this wasn’t a book I wanted to speed through. I found myself wanting to take my time with each chapter.

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