The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
(Oprah's Book Club 2.0 Digital Edition)

82%

23 Critic Reviews

It's not simply a sensible Oprah pick; it's a remarkably well turned proof that the novel-in-stories can transcend the genre's contrivances.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

The newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection: this special eBook edition of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis features exclusive content, including Oprah’s personal notes highlighted within the text, and a reading group guide. 
 
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.
 
 

About Ayana Mathis

See more books from this 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.
 
Published December 6, 2012 by Vintage. 322 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Dec 30 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
All: 23 | Positive: 21 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Good
on Oct 11 2012

...She gracefully shifts her narratives back and forth in time; has an eye for simple but resonant details; and possesses a generous empathy for Hattie, who is unlikable on the surface but carries plenty of complexity.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by ISABEL WILKERSON on Jan 03 2013

Mathis tempers the more operatic elements with tenderness and knowing glimpses into the human heart struggling to love.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Dec 05 2012

...Ms. Mathis gives us a haunting — and, yes, hopeful — glimpse of the possibility of redemption and the resilience of the human spirit.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Churchwell on Feb 08 2013

Written with elegance and remarkable poise, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is rather like its heroine – a bit withholding at times, but memorable and with the hint of something formidable glinting under the surface.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Oct 15 2012

Mathis weaves this story with confidence, proving herself a gifted and powerful writer.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Dec 09 2012

There is very little sense that these men and women even belong to the same family, and the chapters read more like scattered vignettes of mysteriously dysfunctional people.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Melanie Smith on Jan 04 2013

THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE is a realistic, well-written novel with sound historical appeal, excellent caricatures, and a wide range of unique storylines and experiences.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Mark Athitakis on Dec 22 2012

It's not simply a sensible Oprah pick; it's a remarkably well turned proof that the novel-in-stories can transcend the genre's contrivances.

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Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by John Freeman on Dec 21 2012

That Mathis has entered this crowded field at the beginning of her career and written so well we forget all this historiography is nothing short of astonishing.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by John Freeman on Dec 21 2012

One by one, each of this book’s twelve chapters sounds a depth charge into a character’s life, a charge so powerful we forget we’re reading...We are simply with someone, on a journey...

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National Post arts

Excellent
Reviewed by Monique Polak on Jan 25 2013

Once begun, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is difficult to put aside...the characters who people its pages are real. Their challenges and their triumphs are our own.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Hector Tobar on Dec 20 2012

"The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" is a callow work by a writer of still unpolished talents...Mathis gives us a one-dimensional portrait of their suffering — and little else.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Melissa Maerz on Jan 03 2013

... the author has a gift for showing just how heavily history weighs on families, as a learned sense of hope or despair gets passed down from parents to children and dreams die little by little, generation by generation.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Deirdre Donahue on Dec 10 2012

No question, the author is talented. Mathis writes with power and insight. Though less lyrical, she is a more accessible writer than Toni Morrison.

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Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by Karen Thomas on Dec 14 2012

Usually so much hoopla would make one wonder whether a novel can live up to its hype. In this case, don’t wonder, just read. Much has been written about the Great Migration...Surely this novel will take its rightful place in that canon.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Alice Stephens on Jan 23 2013

With extraordinary, intricate detail, and not one unnecessary word, Ayana Mathis has woven a portrait of a family spanning three generations and the challenges they face being poor, oppressed and repressed.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Good
Reviewed by Jane Ciabattari on Jan 04 2013

...she brings considerable empathic gifts to the detailed realistic snapshots in Hattie's family album, and to the sense of displacement that has contributed to generations of troubles and travails.

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Express

Excellent
Reviewed by Jane Clinton on Jan 20 2013

This is an ambitious debut, already praised...It is well-deserved, for this is an epic tale of struggle, oppression, love and loss, told bravely.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Good
Reviewed by Judy Wertheimer on Dec 17 2012

..."The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" marks the emergence of an enormously gifted new writer in Ayana Mathis. I, for one, look forward to seeing what comes next.

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Tampa Bay Times

Good
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on Dec 30 2012

... Mathis' novel is about human experiences that we all share, about love and loss, and about the tremendous distances and inextricable bonds that form our families.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Good
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Dec 23 2012

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is immersed in history without being overwhelmed by it...the novel moves in and out of the lives of the members of one family whose experience might reflect that of thousands of others but also remains distinctly its own.

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Newsday

Above average
Reviewed by Marion Winik on Dec 21 2012

What keeps the reader going on this trail of tears is the resonant truth the story contains, both emotionally and historically.

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Macleans

Excellent
Reviewed by Sarah Weinman on Jan 04 2013

There are no easy solutions, but in Mathis’s expert hands, the Great Migration comes alive as a living, breathing journey.

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Terri McGinty 5 Sep 2013

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