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Book of the week: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

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w204Seamlessly transposing classical myth into a quintessentially American landscape and marrying taut suspense with dreamy lyricism, Tinti’s beautifully intricate second novel is well worth the wait since 2008’s The Good Thief. As his beloved daughter, Loo, hits adolescence, longtime criminal Samuel Hawley forswears life on the run and moves with her to the coastal Massachusetts town where her late mother Lily was raised. Though father and daughter both struggle to adjust, Samuel finds a place in the town’s fishing industry as Loo experiences first love with the quirky son of environmentalists who oppose it. But the consequences of Samuel’s violent past continue unfolding, while Loo’s quest to understand the truth of her mother’s death by drowning may fracture her bond with her father forever. Alternating chapters chronicle Samuel’s past—traced through the 12 bullet wounds that scar his body—and Loo’s attempts to find an authentic self and a future. As the story lines converge, Tinti’s imagery evokes time, space, the sea, and the myth of Heracles without losing the narrative’s sure grounding in American communities and culture. This is a convincingly redemptive and celebratory novel: an affirmation of the way that heroism and human fallibility coexist, of how good parenting comes in unexpected packages, and of the way that we are marked by our encounters with each other and the luminous universe in which we dwell.


Hannah Tinti. Dial, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8129-8988-5

–Copyright (c) Publishers Weekly PWxyz LLC. Used by permission.

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