Author: Ayana Mathis
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie takes us through the lives of Hattie, her husband, their 11 children and later on, her granddaughter. Hattie is a woman of few words. She is strong-willed and “mean as the dickens”, as her children would say. She’s strong because she has no other choice. Of course, she loves her children but tenderness and affection wasn’t something she dished out often, if ever. Hattie has 11 children-two of which she had to bury when she was a young mother and that’s a pain that never left her.
Hattie’s own mother brought them to the north to move away from certain troubles plaguing the south, only to find that life in the north didn’t always mean a trouble-free existence.
Although Hattie is a cold woman, you can’t help but feel sad for her. She is deeply unhappy with the life she leads and spends her days doing her best to keep her nine living children dressed, fed, and with a roof over their heads. Her husband contributes to her unhappiness so much that she refers to him as her “ruin”. Every character in the book is fighting their own demons and you see them struggle to make sense of what their lives have become. Author Ayana Mathis does a phenomenal job of developing each of these characters individually so that you’re drawn into their separate worlds.
I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to Hattie having to put on a brave front even if she’s falling apart on the inside. She’s so hard on her children and husband, especially, because she wants more for their lives and she wants her husband to want that too, or at least not hinder her from making that happen. The resentment that grows between them can definitely be felt.
At the end of the book you’re left hoping that everyone ends up finding their way. The story and the writing, in my opinion, were thoughtfully crafted and I hope you get a chance to read it.
If you have already read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Share in the comments.