The 2021 Twelve high quality Tribes of Hattie (Oprah's Book Club 2.0) outlet sale

The 2021 Twelve high quality Tribes of Hattie (Oprah's Book Club 2.0) outlet sale

The 2021 Twelve high quality Tribes of Hattie (Oprah's Book Club 2.0) outlet sale

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The newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection

The arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction. 

A debut of extraordinary distinction: Ayana Mathis tells the story of the children of the Great Migration through the trials of one unforgettable family.

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.

Beautiful and devastating, Ayana Mathis’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is wondrous from first to last—glorious, harrowing, unexpectedly uplifting, and blazing with life. An emotionally transfixing page-turner, a searing portrait of striving in the face of insurmountable adversity, an indelible encounter with the resilience of the human spirit and the driving force of the American dream.

Ayana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is her first novel.

Amazon.com Review

Exclusive: Amazon Asks Ayana Mathis

Oprah with Ayana Mathis, author of Book Club 2.0''s December 2012 selection, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.

Q. Describe Oprah''s Book Club 2.0® in one sentence (or, better yet, in 10 words).

A. An impassioned and powerful declaration: Books matter.

Q. What''s on your bedside table or Kindle?

A. I''m often reading three or four things at a time, so I invent odd categories to keep them straight. The bedside table is home to read before-bed-but-not-on-the-subway books (heavy hardcovers like Hilary Mantel''s Bring Up the Bodies), mysteries/thrillers (like Robert Wilson''s A Small Death in Lisbon) and things I ought to read but are slooow going (I am now on my fifth month with Augustine''s The City of God).

Q. Top three to five favorite books of all time?

A.Very hard to answer! Beloved by Toni Morrison; The Known World by Edward P. Jones; Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson; The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner; Cane by Jean Toomer.

Q. Important book you never read?

A. Ulysses. And also Portrait of a Lady, which shames me.

Q. Book that changed your life (or book that made you want to become a writer)?

A. I wrote throughout my childhood and thought I wanted to be a poet, but that was more a fantasy than a goal. I was 15 when someone gave me Sonia Sanchez''s, I''ve Been a Woman—that book was a revolution in my life. I realized that I actually could be a poet, that there were black women who were writing--right then, in that moment.

Q. Memorable author moment?

A. This one? I''m so new to being an author (distinctly different from the solitary enterprise of being a writer) that every moment is unforgettable and stunning.

Q. What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?

A. Anything Wonder Woman can do! Roping bad guys with a lasso of truth, deflecting bullets with my bracelets! Of course, I''d trade all of that for mindreading.

Q. What are you currently stressed about or psyched about?

A. I''m psyched about writing some essays on the nature of faith and belief. Writing essays is a very different process from writing fiction. I''m having a hard time with them, which is incredibly exhilarating and incredibly stressful.

Q. What''s your most treasured possession?

A. My grandfather''s diaries. He kept them secretly for over fifty years and gave them to me a few years before he died.

Q. Pen envy--book you wish you''d written?

A. Rita Dove''s Thomas and Beulah or Yusef Komunyakaa''s Magic City.

Q. Who''s your current author crush?

A. Eudora Welty. There''s never a wasted word in her short stories; so much power and meaning packed into a few short pages.

Q. What''s your favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?

A. That''s an embarrassingly long list: clothes shopping online, returning clothes I''ve bought online, cooking elaborate time-consuming dinners, farmer''s markets, Netflix Instant (grrr, it''s ruining my life).

Q. What do you collect?

A. Ways to procrastinate.

Q. Best piece of fan mail you ever got?

A. Oh dear. I''ve never gotten any. I''m feeling a little inadequate now.

Q. What''s next for you?

A. Trying to find a way into my second novel, the idea is there but the rest isn''t. Right now it''s a bit like stumbling around in a dark room.

Review

" The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is a vibrant and compassionate portrait of a family hardened and scattered by circumstance and yet deeply a family. Its language is elegant in its purity and rigor. The characters are full of life, mingled thing that it is, and dignified by the writer’s judicious tenderness towards them. This first novel is a work of rare maturity. "
            —Marilynne Robinson

" The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is beautiful and necessary from the very first sentence. The human lives it renders are on every page lowdown and glorious, fallen and redeemed, and all at the same time. They would be too heartbreaking to follow, in fact, were they not observed in such a generous and artful spirit of hope, in a spirit of mercy, in the spirit of love. Ayana Mathis has written a treasure of a novel."
            —Paul Harding

“Writing with stunning authority, clarity, and courage, debut novelist Mathis pivots forward in time, spotlighting intensely dramatic episodes in the lives of Hattie''s nine subsequent children (and one grandchild to make the ‘twelve tribes’), galvanizing crises that expose the crushed dreams and anguished legacy of the Great Migration…Mathis writes with blazing insight into the complexities of sexuality, marriage, family relationships, backbone, fraudulence, and racism in a molten novel of lives racked with suffering yet suffused with beauty.”
            —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred)
 
“Remarkable…Mathis weaves this story with confidence, proving herself a gifted and powerful writer.” 
           —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Cutting, emotional…pure heartbreak…though Mathis has inherited some of Toni Morrison’s poetic intonation, her own prose is appealingly earthbound and plainspoken, and the book’s structure is ingenious…an excellent debut.”
            — Kirkus Reviews (starred)

About the Author

 
Ayana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship.  The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is her first novel.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Ruthie
1951
 
Lawrence had just given the last of his money to the numbers man when Hattie called him from a public telephone a few blocks from her house on Wayne Street. Her voice was just audible over the street traffic and the baby’s high wail. “It’s Hattie,” she said, as though he would not recognize her voice. And then, “Ruthie and I left home.” Lawrence thought for a moment that she meant she had a free hour unexpectedly, and he might come and meet them at the park where they usually saw each other.
 
“No,” she’d said. “I packed my things. We can’t . . . we’re not going back.”
 
They met an hour later at a diner on Germantown Avenue. The lunch rush was over, and Hattie was the lone customer. She sat with Ruthie propped in her lap, a menu closed on the table in front of her. Hattie did not look up as Lawrence approached. He had the impression that she’d seen him walk in and had turned her head so as not to appear to be looking for him. A cloth satchel sat on the floor next to her: embroidered, somber hued, faded. A bit of white fabric stuck up through the latch. He felt a rush of tenderness at the sight of the bag flopping on the linoleum.
 
Lawrence lifted the satchel onto the seat as he slid into the booth. He reached across and tickled Ruthie’s cheek with his finger. He and Hattie had never discussed a future seriously. Oh, there had been plenty of sighs and wishes in the afternoon hours after they made love: they had invented an entire life out of what-ifs and wouldn’t-it-be-nices. He looked at her now and realized their daydreams were more real to him than he’d allowed himself to believe.
 
Lawrence wasn’t a man who got hung up on ideals or lofty sentiment; he had lived pragmatically as far as his emotions were concerned. He had a car and nice suits, and he had only infrequently worked for white men. He left his family behind in Baltimore when he was sixteen, and he had built himself up from nothing without any help from anyone. And if he had not been able to save his mother from becoming a mule, at least he had never been one himself. For most of his life, this had seemed like the most important thing, not to be anybody’s mule. Then Hattie came along with all of those children, that multitude of children, and she didn’t have a mark of them on her. She spoke like she’d gone to one of those finishing schools for society Negro girls that they have down south. It was as though she’d been dropped into a life of squalor and indignities that should not have been hers. With such a woman, if he would only try a bit harder, he might become a family man. It is true that he had not met Hattie’s children, but their names— Billups and Six and Bell— were seductive as the names of foreign cities. In his imagination they were not so much children as they were small docile copies of Hattie.
 
“What happened?” he asked Hattie. Ruthie kicked at her swaddling. She looked very like him. The old wives’ tale says babies look like their fathers when they are new to the world. Ruthie was light-skinned like him and Hattie, lighter than August. Of course, Lawrence had not seen Hattie’s other children and could not know that most of them were this same milky tea color.
 
“Did August put his hands on you?” Lawrence asked.
 
“He’s not that kind of man,” she answered sharply.
 
“Anybody is, if his manhood is wounded enough.”
 
Hattie looked at him in alarm.
 
“A lot of men, I mean,” Lawrence said.
 
Hattie turned her face to the window. She would need money—that was certain—and they would be able to spend more time together now that August knew the truth. Lawrence could put her up somewhere. It occurred to him now that his choices were two: run from the diner and never see her again or become, all at once, a man of substance and commitment.
 
“I’m so ashamed,” Hattie said. “I’m so ashamed.”
 
“Hattie, listen to me. Our little baby isn’t anything to be ashamed of.”
 
She shook her head. Later that evening, and for years to come, he would wonder if he had misunderstood her, if her shame wasn’t at having a child with him but something larger that he didn’t understand, and if it wasn’t his failure to grasp this that had doomed them. But in that moment, he thought she only needed convincing, so he talked about renting her a house in Baltimore, where he’d grown up, and how they’d bring her children from Philadelphia and what it would all be like.
 
Hattie’s eyes were red-rimmed, and she kept glancing over Lawrence’s shoulder. He had never seen her so skittish, so in need of him. For the first time, Lawrence felt Hattie was his. This was not proprietary but something all together more profound— he was accountable to her, wonderfully and honorably obliged to take care of her. Lawrence was forty years old. He realized that whatever he’d experienced with other women— lust? infatuation?— had not been love.
 
 Hattie was incredulous. She refused him.
 
“This is our chance,” Lawrence said. “I’m telling you, we won’t ever get over it, we won’t ever forgive ourselves if we don’t do this. Baby.”
 
“But do you still . . . ?” she asked.
 
Lawrence had discussed his gambling in passing. He had told Hattie he made his living for the most part as a porter on the trains, which had been true for a few months many years ago. Hattie’s uncertainty made Lawrence understand that she did not take his gambling as lightly as he had supposed.
 
“I’ll stop,” he said. “I already have, really. It’s just a game or two when it’s slow with the trains.”
 
Hattie wept in heavy wracking sobs that shook her shoulders and upset Ruthie.
 
“I’ll stop,” he said again.
 
Lawrence slid next to Hattie on the banquette. He leaned down and kissed his daughter’s forehead. He kissed Hattie’s temple and her tears and the corner of her mouth. When she calmed, Hattie rested her head on his shoulder.
 
“I couldn’t stand to be a fool a second time,” Hattie said. “I couldn’t stand it.”
 
 
Hattie had hardly spoken during the four- hour drive to Baltimore. Lawrence’s was the only car on the highway— his high beams tunneled along the black road. Such a dark and quiet night, the moon was slim as a fingernail clipping and offered no light. Lawrence accelerated to fifty miles per hour, just to hear the engine rev and feel the car shoot forward. Hattie tensed in the passenger seat.
 
“We’re not too far now.” He reached over and squeezed Ruthie’s fat little leg. “I love you,” Lawrence said. “I love you both.”
 
“She’s a good baby,” Hattie replied.
 
August had named the baby Margaret, but Hattie and Lawrence had decided before her birth that they’d call her Ruth after Lawrence’s mother. When Ruth was nine days old, Hattie brought her to meet Lawrence in a park in his neighborhood.
 
“This is your father,” Hattie said, handing her to Lawrence. The baby fussed—Lawrence was a stranger to her—but he held her until she quieted. “Hush, hush, little Ruthie girl, hush, hush,” he said. Tears rose in his throat when the visit ended and Hattie took the baby back to Wayne Street. In the hours and days until he next saw her, Lawrence thought of Ruthie every instant: now she is hungry, now she is asleep. Now she is cooing in the arms of the man who is not her father. It was possible, of course, that Hattie was mistaken and Ruthie was August’s baby, but Lawrence knew, he knew in a way that was not logical and could not be explained, that she was his child.
 
Lawrence tightened his grip on the steering wheel until his fingers ached. “They never made a car better than the ’44 Buick. I told you it was a smooth ride,” he said. “Didn’t I tell you? I drove this car all the way to Chicago once to see my cousin.”
 
“You told me,” Hattie said.
 
A car passed in the opposite direction. Hattie put her hand over Ruthie’s eyes to shield her from the headlight glare.
 
“You’ll like Baltimore,” Lawrence said. “You’ll see.”
 
He did not know if she would. They were to live in a couple of rooms in a boardinghouse until he could get the money together to rent a house. A place large enough for all Hattie’s children would cost twenty-five dollars a week. Lawrence could make that money easily; he could pull six months’ rent in a single night with a couple of good hands. It wasn’t the money that made him nervous, though he was skinned at the moment.
 
“ ‘As the sparks fly upward . . . ,’ ” Hattie said. “It’s from the Bible,” she added.
 
“Well, that’s dismal. Don’t you remember anything else?” Hattie shrugged.
 
“Guess not,” Lawrence said.
 
He reached over and tapped her playfully on the knee with the back of his hand. She stiffened. “Come on, baby. Come on, let’s try and be a little bit happy. This is a happy occasion, isn’t it?”
 
“I like that verse. It makes me feel like I’m not alone,” Hattie said. She shifted away from him in her seat. “You’re going to pick up more shifts on the railroads, right?” she asked.
 
“We talked about this. You know I will.”
 
Lawrence felt Hattie’s gaze on him, uncertain and frightened. Her shine was going, Lawrence thought. There was something used and gray about her these days. Lawrence did not want Hattie to be a normal woman, just any old downtrodden colored woman. Hadn’t he left Maryland to be free of them? And hadn’t he married his ex-wife because she was glamorous as a rhinestone? It did not occur to him that he contributed to the fear and apprehension that had worn Hattie down.
 
He missed the Hattie he’d found so irresistible when they met— a little steely, a little inaccessible, angry enough to put a spring in her step and a light in her eye. Just angry enough to keep her going, like Lawrence. And there was another side of her, the one that yearned and longed for something she wouldn’t ever have— the two of them had that in common too. Lawrence took Hattie to New York a few months before she got pregnant. The trip had required elaborate lies— Hattie told August and her sister Marion that she’d been hired to cook for a party at a white woman’s place way out on the Main Line and that she had to stay overnight. Marion kept the children. Lawrence had not anticipated Hattie’s guilt, but it had cast a pall over their trip, and over New York City itself— or so Lawrence thought until the next day when they were driving back to Philadelphia. As they drove out of the Holland Tunnel, Hattie turned for one last glimpse of the city’s ramparts glowing in the setting sun. Then she slumped in her seat. “Well, that’s gone,” she said. Something in the New York streets was familiar to her. More than familiar, she said, she felt she belonged there. Lawrence understood. It seemed to him that every time he made one choice in his life, he said no to another. All of those things he could not do or be were huddled inside of him; they might spring up at any moment, and he would be hobbled with regret. He pulled to the shoulder of the road and held her. She was a beating heart in his hand.
 
Lawrence hardly recognized the distant, distraught woman next to him now. “You act like your whole life was one long January afternoon,” Lawrence said. “The trees are always barren and there’s not a flower on the vine.”
 
“It wouldn’t do any good to go around with my head in the clouds.”
 
“It would sometimes, Hattie. It sure would.”
 
He was responsible for her now. She might, he thought, at least try to be a little more . . . Well, after all they were starting a life together that very day, that very moment. Lawrence needed her steeliness. He needed her resolve to bolster his own. More was required than his charms and his sex and a bit of laughter and forgetting. He had to be better than August.
 
That bum. August was always out at nightclubs or at the jukes. Lawrence saw him once at a supper club where all the dicty Negroes went. August was on a date; he was all dressed up like the mayor of Philadelphia while Hattie was at home on Wayne Street elbow deep in dishwater. August could have gotten a decent job, but he chose to work catch as catch can at the Navy Yard out of pure laziness. A man had to be responsible. Lawrence was responsible. Whatever else he might be, he took care of his own. He had this Buick, didn’t he? Free and clear. And a house in a decent neighborhood. He’d kept his ex- wife in nice dresses while they were married and was still keeping her in them now that they were divorced. He saw his daughter once a week— didn’t miss a visit unless there was something really important, no, something damn near unavoidable. She was the picture of good health, didn’t want for anything. There were all kinds of ways to be responsible. Maybe he hadn’t made his money in the way most people would approve of, but none of his had ever gone without.
 
“You have to take some joy from the little things, baby. Look at this— fireworks!”
 
A gold flare rose above the treetops and peacocked into a fan of light over the highway. “Isn’t that something?” he said. “We must be closer to Baltimore than I thought.”
 
Hattie barely glanced at the lights bursting overhead.
 
“Hey,” Lawrence said, after a few moments, “do you plait your hair at night?”
 
“What?”
 
“Your hair. Do you plait it at night and tie it down with a scarf?”
 
“What kind of a thing is that to ask?”
 
“I just . . . I guess I just realized I didn’t know.”
 
“Oh, Lawrence,” Hattie said. Her voice quivered. After a long pause, she said, “I tie it down.”

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4.1 out of 54.1 out of 5
2,162 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Sabine
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A relatable story for anyone that''s ever been in a dark place
Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2018
Many of the critiques in the comments revolve around the jumping around of personalities/narrators, the consistent sadness and lack of joy, and also that often they felt incomplete. Honestly, this is what made the book so compelling for me. It lacked superficiality.... See more
Many of the critiques in the comments revolve around the jumping around of personalities/narrators, the consistent sadness and lack of joy, and also that often they felt incomplete.
Honestly, this is what made the book so compelling for me. It lacked superficiality. Many things in our lives go unresolved and leave us with an empty space that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Some voids can''t be filled despite our best efforts. We looked to others to fill these voids and often our disappointment is furthered. I appreciated that rawness in the book. Every chapter had something that moved me to tears because the book was far from superficial. It was a depiction of the many things that hurt us in our childhood that can go unresolved for generations and generations. So many things come around and it''s hurtful when we see these things recur again in our children and even grandchildren. It''s an honest story that many people can relate too because a domino effect is a real thing.
22 people found this helpful
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Urenna
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Great Book, read Feb. 2013
Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2015
It was a struggle for Hattie to put herself together after losing her twins. Losing her babies was a partial disintegration of herself. She could not move beyond her grief, even when she had more children. I believe she loved the children born after the twins, but... See more
It was a struggle for Hattie to put herself together after losing her twins. Losing her babies was a partial disintegration of herself. She could not move beyond her grief, even when she had more children.
I believe she loved the children born after the twins, but chronic depression affected her in a way that was detrimental to their upbringing. Her husband August’s instability added to her depression.
Although August was unreliable as a husband and father, he had no difficulty expressing a little tenderness to his children. Yet August was a soft man who lacked character. He was too easy, too carefree, a spendthrift who enjoyed the bars, women and good times.
In essence, August was egocentric.
I loved Hattie’s character. I saw her as a strong woman, yet her grief kept her tethered to a man that caused a great deal of her emotional disability. She could not lift herself out of the mire from him.
Her brief affair with Lawrence showed her lack of direction. However, Lawrence made her feel good, made her laugh and gave her hope. But Lawrence’s compulsion would have spiraled out of control. Lawrence would have sent Hattie into a tailspin of profound depression. Lawrence could not offer her permanence and stability.
Hattie and August’s dysfunction and instability affected the children as adults. Their adult children had their own destructive behaviors and demons to deal with.
I enjoyed the book because I could imagine (Hattie’s sister) Pearl’s desperation for a child. I could imagine Hattie’s loss and the effects of depression on her psyche.
The writing was poignant, touched my heart, and made my eyes moisten at times. That in itself is a feat for a writer.
I would have liked the book to end with Bell, who I found destructive. I will not say more than that.
The only error I found was Lawrence’s discussion of Robert Kennedy in Bell’s chapter (1975). Robert Kennedy died June 6, 1968.
Errors happen in editing and in historical facts. No one knows this more than I do.
I suggest you read the book. It is a great read.
10 people found this helpful
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Mad4roses
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An amazing story
Reviewed in the United States on April 28, 2013
This book about Hattie and her Tribe has great resonance for me. I grew up in Philly, and have family who migrated there from SC in the 1920''s for the same reasons that Hattie did. I know about the power of the neighborhoods, and the block, in shaping and nurturing you.... See more
This book about Hattie and her Tribe has great resonance for me. I grew up in Philly, and have family who migrated there from SC in the 1920''s for the same reasons that Hattie did. I know about the power of the neighborhoods, and the block, in shaping and nurturing you. Hattie, guarded, defensive, alone, and isolated, was disconnected from her community because of money and her husband''s lower class. Though she was of the "right," class and color for Germantown, she''d married "down," and was disconnected from her neighbors. Interestingly her children are so affected that they end up in the very neighborhoods that Germantowners scorned: South, West, and North Philly. Hattie''s story is about the way that pain in one generation is passed to the next, and the next, and so on. Her father is brutally, senselessly murdered, and the family escapes to Philadelphia, only to have her mother, then twins die, all before she is even 18. She becomes deeply depressed and her children experience her depression as rejection and are in turn never able to fully accept and know who they really are. Some reviewers have complained that the book wasn''t happy or uplifting, and I guess that they missed the point. It''s about how your early experiences shape you, and how your children are then also shaped. One measure of a book for me is how much I can relate to the characters, and I not only related to them, I felt I knew them, had lived next door to them, went to church with them. They were the family everyone talked about, and in turn, pitied or scorned. Did they have happy endings? No. But that''s the point of the story.
14 people found this helpful
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Abril Goforth
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Compelling
Reviewed in the United States on January 1, 2018
I enjoyed reading this book. It is a raw, honest, compelling work. We see the main character, Hattie, from several different perspectives that, while they are revealing in some ways, still leave us with mystery. Hattie is a complex woman. The book ends so abruptly I was not... See more
I enjoyed reading this book. It is a raw, honest, compelling work. We see the main character, Hattie, from several different perspectives that, while they are revealing in some ways, still leave us with mystery. Hattie is a complex woman. The book ends so abruptly I was not prepared for it (I was reading on my Kindle) and it shocked and saddened me. We will have no closure. But perhaps that is entirely the point the book is trying to make.
2 people found this helpful
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Riis
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Could have been a better book.
Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2012
Liked the characters, but didn''t really get to know them or know if their situations turned out okay. I like the way this author writes, but this book seemed like it didn''t quite fit together, like it wasn''t finished or information was missing or something. We meet... See more
Liked the characters, but didn''t really get to know them or know if their situations turned out okay. I like the way this author writes, but this book seemed like it didn''t quite fit together, like it wasn''t finished or information was missing or something. We meet several of Hattie''s kids and they all seem to have some serious issues but I don''t get why. Hattie seemed like a good mother. Not very affectionate, but the kids seemed to be taken care of and not abused by their parents in any way. I don''t get why her children were all in such a bad way. Something is missing in the story to make that connection. I liked the characters though and wanted very much to get to know them better. And the idea I got from the end of the book was confusing. What is the message there? When you feel confused and maybe defeated or don''t know where to turn, don''t turn to God? I mean, I presume that Hattie wants to be more hands on with this grandchild so that she doesn''t turn out the way her children did, but I didn''t understand why she did what she did in the church. Or maybe I do get it, but I''m not sure if that is the message the author wanted to convey.
17 people found this helpful
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J. Blue
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Somewhat Disappointing
Reviewed in the United States on January 21, 2013
I must begin by saying that Twelve Tribes Of Hattie was recommended to me by an author that I admire in August of 2012. She indicated that this was a new author and the release date for the book would be february of 2013. You can imagine my surprise when it was selected... See more
I must begin by saying that Twelve Tribes Of Hattie was recommended to me by an author that I admire in August of 2012. She indicated that this was a new author and the release date for the book would be february of 2013. You can imagine my surprise when it was selected by Oprah and the launch date was "pushed" up. I was so excited to read, and even more so after it was selected by my book club as our read for February.

I REALLY enjoyed Ms. Mathis'' prose with regardes to her ability to set the scene for the reader. I did not like the flow of the chapters however, because they were disjointed and sometimes lacked resolution.

I really wanted to enjoy this book, and embrace it as one of my all time favorites; but once I completed it, I felt let down...like a deflated balloon.

This story had so much potential had it been written with a better balance - it came from a dark place. I am not saying there should have been Unicorns, Rainbows, and Butterflies throughout; but some interjection of happiness or success for a least one of the nine children would have given this reader some hope and redemption for Hattie''s descendants.

For an exceptional read; I would like to recommend "The Healing" by Jonathan Odell.
4 people found this helpful
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Cheryl E. Durham
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Everything is not What It Looks Like!
Reviewed in the United States on June 11, 2013
The author did a fantastic job with this book. There were times when I kept screaming "who would start the book off like this." But, I pushed through and I got it. It was then I wanted to weep with Hattie and August. Other times I wanted to choke them. The story was... See more
The author did a fantastic job with this book. There were times when I kept screaming "who would start the book off like this." But, I pushed through and I got it. It was then I wanted to weep with Hattie and August. Other times I wanted to choke them. The story was written during the Great migration. She and her family headed North looking for better days. As she ages...life happens: marriage...births...death...infidelity, more month than money and post partum depression just to name a few. She tried to do what is right and keep the family''s head above ground but every time you look around there was a setback (many of them manmade others situational). Throughout the book grit is exhibited!

The author develops Hattie and those around her in such a way that the historical components of the time was not lost. She also introduced components that have many times been left unsaid...or explored somewhat sheepish in the African American culture. I love the setting...the tone...the book was written with such profound quality. Ms. Mathis captured the extended family...the family of origin and their unfinished business and I loved the fact that she was able to paint the picture of forgiveness.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is a classic. You may go crazy trying to remember the names of all the characters...but I promise you that you will enjoy it. Six has a gift...Floyd has a secret...Bell was vindictive...Lawrence didn''t have a clue and the list could go on.

I would gladly read another book by this author. I have referred it to several book clubs. Read it for your self...you won''t be disappointed! Just remember if you want a book that is smooth sailing and that you can soak up in one setting...its not this one. Chapter after chapter Mathis delivers.
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Rev. T
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Engaging but formulaic (in some respects)
Reviewed in the United States on February 3, 2013
A very difficult book for me to rate...on the positive: it was thrilling to read. I was suspecting slow drama given that this story tracks the lives of a dozen people over time, but I was surprised by how gripped I was in each chapter even when the action occurring was only... See more
A very difficult book for me to rate...on the positive: it was thrilling to read. I was suspecting slow drama given that this story tracks the lives of a dozen people over time, but I was surprised by how gripped I was in each chapter even when the action occurring was only minimal - a great testimony to the power and skill of Mathis'' writing. I found myself thinking about the characters and story throughout the day and very much wanting to return to the book. I also enjoyed the story on a personal level and found it quite relatable to the northern black experience - in some ways it felt like I was reading my own family history which was a real treat. I found myself relating to Hattie and understanding her hardness, something it seems that many others have been unable to do.

Negatively...another reviewer I read elsewhere labeled this book "misandry on display." While I think that is a bit harsh, the book does indeed have a tiresome and trite habit of portraying men (particularly black men) in a negative light. Why so many black women authors (of whom I am one) feel a need to do this, I do not know, but I think the truly novel thing to do would be to actually portray some black men in a good light!! They exist!! Furthermore, the book had a strange anti-redemptive theme to it which I didn''t quite understand...could it really be true that all 12 of Hattie''s kin could find themselves in such miserable circumstances? Yes, this I think is the natural outcome of a parent who does not know how to care for her children''s souls, as Hattie herself admitted. Still...it would have been far more believable to me if there was more of a mix of outcomes for her kin. The book was far too negative for me (although admittedly there were spots of light) and seemed to also be overly pessimistic about religion which I did not appreciate.

All in all, though, a fantastic read and a talented author!
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1st renassance
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Blues People
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 12, 2020
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie starts with the Great Migration that began in 1916 and from which 6 million African Americans migrated from the segregated south to the north. Hattie is amongst the first generation of migrants. The novel progresses in time until 1980, with each...See more
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie starts with the Great Migration that began in 1916 and from which 6 million African Americans migrated from the segregated south to the north. Hattie is amongst the first generation of migrants. The novel progresses in time until 1980, with each chapter taking a snapshot of the life of one of her children or her granddaughter. The chapter entitled Ruthie 1951 is evocative of the blues mood of much of the novel. RL Burnside’s doleful ‘My Woman Done Left Me’ would be a fitting soundtrack much of the characters’ lives. This mood is countered by sporadic thirsts for life, particularly in the character of Hattie, and best depicted in her relationship with Lawrence, until they move in with each other. Whilst the Great Migration is to be celebrated for offering greater (economic and social) freedoms to African Americans, Hattie’s life story in the north leaves an indelible and somewhat negative imprint on her children. August and Lawrence get off lightly. As fathers, they are seemingly incidental. I was left wondering if this was a statement about the marginalisation of black fatherhood in so-called black matriarchal families and the extent to which this was being attributed in part to the emasculation of black men in white America (as seen when Pearl and Benny journey back south, and Benny is rendered impotent in front of the four white men who reduce him to ‘shucking and shuffling’. The novel also touches on various other themes such as religion as an escape route from life’s drudgery and the preferential treatment reserved for light-skinned women in African American communities. There are obvious influences of Toni Morrison in this Ayana Mathis’s debut novel, which is well worth reading.
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RB BRU
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Almost great
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 12, 2013
The book tells the story of the challenging and unfullfilled life of Hattie and the trials and tribulations of her many children. It certainly has its fair share of magical, poignant and heartbreaking moments. However, I agree with some of the other reviews that it was just...See more
The book tells the story of the challenging and unfullfilled life of Hattie and the trials and tribulations of her many children. It certainly has its fair share of magical, poignant and heartbreaking moments. However, I agree with some of the other reviews that it was just a bit too disjointed. Each chapter is a snapshot of a different moment in each of the children''s lives and, whilst it is always good for an author to leave some details to the imagination, it left me wanting to know too much more. Although we find out what happens to Hattie and her husband in the end, I felt that many of the children''s stories were often cut off and not returned to and thus the book''s challenging themes were never fully explored. Overall a good read, and certainly thought-provoking and challenging. However, perhaps 3.5 stars rather than 4 would be more appropriate. That being said, I would be happy to read more of the Author''s work.
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Amanda T
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A classic.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 25, 2021
Wonderfully poetic writing. Toni Morrisonesc in understanding of women''s strength and weaknesses. Hattie''s tormented relationship with her children - deep protective  love expressed as harshness. Could bottle some phrases. Each child''s story is beautifully consise.
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Plucked Highbrow
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Somewhat overrated
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 4, 2013
With glowing reviews and recommendations from such as Oprah this book has much to live up to. In fact it is a really good read. Hattie leaves Georgia for Philadelphia age 15. She''s pregnant with twins, away from home and with a man she''s not sure about. By the end of the...See more
With glowing reviews and recommendations from such as Oprah this book has much to live up to. In fact it is a really good read. Hattie leaves Georgia for Philadelphia age 15. She''s pregnant with twins, away from home and with a man she''s not sure about. By the end of the first chapter her babies are dead and the book continues to follow her family. Each vignette is linked to black history and the characters are clear. No book could live up to the earnest weight placed on this one but it is good.
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 2, 2020
amazing story, so well written, I left each chapter wanting to know more about each character Would definitely recommend, great story
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