At turns a father-daughter road trip, a love story, a thriller, and a coming-of-age story, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti is difficult to classify. But it is well worth the read and perfect for anyone looking for a thriller with more depth than the average James Patterson or Brad Meltzer.
Loo is twelve when she moves back to the New England fishing village where her mother was from. Her father, Hawley, finds work on the boats, while she undergoes the usual heartaches of a new kid in school. But lurking over Loo are mysteries: Of the mother who passed away when she was a baby and of the grandmother she's forbidden to speak to and of the father she is not sure she really wants to know.
Hurtling towards both father and daughter are the ghosts of Hawley's past. Before Loo's birth, he was a professional criminal engaged in increasingly elaborate and dangerous underworld schemes. Life on the road was harsh—Samuel Hawley took "twelve bullets" in his brutal career. The scars have healed, but there is a reckoning still to come, that even he is not prepared to face.
Tinti succeeds in weaving a heartbreaking story of love that leaps back and forth between the past and the present, revealing that we cannot escape the choices we have made.
The titular "twelve lives" refer to the twelve bullet scars Hawley received in his former life as a hired criminal. The twelve stories of how he received each scar are intertwined with events in the present which threaten to unravel the "normal" life Hawley is trying to provide his daughter, whether she wants it or not.
But more than just a coming-of-age story, this is definitely a thriller that leaves readers in suspense as they rush to the harrowing conclusion.
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