Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Random House via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Summary: Samuel Hawley has been on the run with his daughter Loo for years, packing up and relocating every year, never getting too settled, too comfortable. Loo doesn’t know why they have to live this way, but her mother is dead, her father is all she has, and she loves him. It really isn’t that bad. She doesn’t remember it being any other way.
Then one day, when Loo is 11, Hawley decides it’s a good time to settle down somewhere, and he takes Loo to her mother’s hometown of Olympus, Massachusetts to lay roots. As the years pass and Loo grows into a young woman, she learns more and more about her father’s past, including some painful truths she hadn’t expected, gets questions answered about her mother, of whom she knows very little, and starts to grasp the person that she is and the kind she wants to be.
Review: The tone of this book reminded me a bit of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood crossed with a smattering of The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis. A little gritty, but not overwhelmingly so. Perhaps it’s the survival aspect that connects them, the idea that when our lives are at stake, all bets are off. Also, that doing bad things, doesn’t necessarily make us innately bad, that we are still capable of loving and being loved, that there is always room for change, always room for forgiveness, to make amends, to do better and be better.
Hawley may not be the perfect father, but damn if he doesn’t try. Loo’s upbringing is far from typical, but somehow it suits her personality, she takes it in stride, and she loves her father fiercely. Love isn’t always easy, and love between parent and child is rarely simple, but despite all the extraneous crap that gets tossed at them, their bond remains intact.
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is about a lot of things – redemption, sacrifice, friendship, forgiveness, family – but ultimately, it’s about love. And it’s a love story worth reading.