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.
What I Thought:
‘Epic’ is a word that is bandied about far too much these days – but I have no hesitation in calling The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley an epic novel. It manages to combine the best elements of literary fiction with a compelling mystery, while sending our main character the length and breadth of the United States.
I have no idea why, but on first reading about the novel, I got the impression that it was historical fiction and a western (funny the things you incorrectly pick up) but while this assumption was completely wrong, Samuel Hawley does have something of the outlaw about him, and the themes of protecting loved ones at all costs, and the lone wolf brought to heel by the love of a good woman are reminiscent of the western genre – it really does have that feel to it at times.
While the book is about Samuel Hawley, and how he came by those scars, we see the present day sections of the book from Loo’s point of view. Living with a mysterious father is all she has ever known, but it’s heartbreaking to read her slow discovery that not all people live that way, and see her slowly come to distrust the man who has only her best interests at heart – the eventual ending is a touching and fitting conclusion to a gripping novel.
I try not to make my posts full of images, but I was sent a review copy of Samuel Hawley, which is a really lovely looking book, but I can’t end this post without letting you see the cover art below – just gorgeous!
Note: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher for review purposes – all opinions are, as ever, my own.