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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Mathis, Ayana (Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
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The story of an African American family held together with a mother's grit and monumental courage.
Authors: Mathis, Ayana
Statement of Responsibility: Ayana Mathis
Title: The twelve tribes of Hattie
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 243 p. ; 25 cm.
Summary: The story of an African American family held together with a mother's grit and monumental courage.
Subject Headings: African American women Fiction African American families Pennsylvania Philadelphia Fiction African Americans Migrations History 20th century Fiction Philadelphia (Pa.) Fiction
Genre/Form: Historical fiction
Domestic fiction
Topical Term: African American women
African American families
African Americans
Black author
Local Subject Heading: Black author
LCCN: 2012010779
ISBN: 9780385350280
0385350287
9780307959423
0307959422
Branch Call Number: FIC M
Research Call Number: Sc E 13-96
JFE 14-5423
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Book Discussion Meeting September 17, 2014

June 2014 Selection

December 13, 2013

September 24 6:30PM


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Nov 04, 2014
  • Karaelena rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Beautiful and tragic story. I loved her writing style. Each chapter told from a different view of each child. Will defintely look out for other titles from Ayana.

Feb 24, 2014
  • librarylizzard rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I started this on the recommendation of a colleague, but didn't get past the first 3 "stories". First, Hattie's twins die of pneumonia. Then, far in the future, her jazz-playing son questions his sexuality. By the time her badly burned and disfigured son wrestles with his faith and chosen path as a preacher I was longing for a different story. I don't often give up on books halfway, but I couldn't wait to swap this for something else. It just wasn't my kind of book. Sorry, Ayana Mathis!

Dec 16, 2013
  • HilarySquires rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Thank goodness for the hopeful ending!

Nov 07, 2013
  • amandamarie2234 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I agree with most of the comments so far. Mathis chose an interesting format for the narrative, and I love the idea of telling a family's story through chapters in each member's voice; however, I too kept waiting for ONE glimmer of hope-- to no avail. It's hard to read (and believe) failure after failure, tragedy after tragedy... one needs a little joy here and there! Mathis' frame allowed her to span decades and portray her characters in various historical times and places, but the novelty of the structure wore off when I realized that all of my rooting for the title character and her family wouldn't make their lives any brighter. I closed the book and, before I said anything about its quality, said, "That was incredibly depressing."

Oct 25, 2013
  • BTVS rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

This is a slog to read and does not resonate with any experience in my life. Parents of 12 children are inadequate. I was depressed reading this story and found it has no redeeming insights

Aug 25, 2013
  • KSerá rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Yes, the writing is very good, which redeems the fact that this book is so unrelievedly dismal. I like stories about people facing challenges, but when none of the forteen characters in this book manage to overcome their problems and build a happy and satisfying life it is just too depressing and in my opinion not realistic.

Jul 27, 2013
  • azor rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Beautifully written. Very engaging story. I look forward to more by this author.

Jun 18, 2013
  • amgriffin rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Super depressing. But could be good on a gloomy day. Lacked closure and a polished ending.

Jun 13, 2013
  • basilbrush rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This was very well written. I loved her writing style however it was a pretty depressing story.

Jun 09, 2013
  • theredlilac rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I'm a sucker for Oprah's book suggestions. At less than 300 pages this was a quick read but it was not a happy book. Each chapter is one of Hattie's children, telling a snapshot of their life with Hattie as a mother and more often than not the snapshot is depressing. Ayana Mathis is a great writer and I look forward to reading more from her.

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