Title: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Author: Ayana Mathis
Narrators: Adenrele Ojo, Bahni Turpin, Adam Lazarre-White
Length: 10.5 hours
Published in: 2012
Source: borrowed from library
Reason for Reading: Title sounded intriguing as I browsed through the newly released audiobooks.
Summary (from cover):
In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation.
My Thoughts: I really loved this book. Each of Hattie’s children had such a different life from the others, I hardly knew what to think. Plus, Hattie had children spanning a 30-year period. And in the US, there was quite a lot of change between the Great Depression and the 1980s. One of the things I liked the most about the story were the children’s names: Philadelphia (boy) and Jubilee (girl) were the first two, the twins. Then there were, in no particular order, Floyd, Bell, Six, Billups, Ella, Ruthie, Cassie, Franklin, and Alice. One child was a schizophrenic; one child, a homosexual musician; another was born of a different father; one given away to family to ease the family’s hardships; another became a Bible-beating reverand living a life of sin; one was a soldier in Vietnam; and another was molested by a neighbor as a second was locked out and never said a word. It is a shame that most of the children did indeed have hardships to suffer through. Some where able to bear their challenges, some weren’t.
As I listened to this story, it reminded me a lot of The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which I listened to about a year ago. Both stories were very different, but the overall feeling while reading them was very similar. I recommend both 🙂