Monday, July 4, 2016

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Product DetailsThis book is actually a collection of related short stories.  Each chapter is about a different one of Hattie's children and through them, we get to know Hattie herself.  I usually avoid Oprah books like the PLAGUE but, the truth is, this book was on my TBR pile long before Oprah thought to mention it.  I've waited so long to read it because she did.  As an aside,  I avoid Oprah books because people read these books because a celebrity tells them to - a celebrity who has no more sense of literary value than you and I and perhaps less.  I have often found these books to be wanting, never quite living up to the hype that big O generates.

All that aside,  I found this book to be full of occasional brilliance surrounded by pages of mediocrity.   Some of the stories I just loved.   I felt every bit of Hattie's pain as she held Jubilee and Philadelphia.  I understood her dissatisfaction with her wayward husband and her shame that was a result.  I admired her strength of character as she chose to do what was right for Ella, even though it was so painful for herself.

Then, there were the other moments.  What was the point of Six's preaching?   Why did Hattie fight so hard to keep her granddaughter from falling into the same pattern?   Why did Billyups sister make him so co-dependent on their relationship?  How could any character, considering what their mother went through, look down on another? 

This book left me with as many questions as it answered, but perhaps maybe that is the point.  Definitely thought provoking and insightful into the lives of characters I would not have otherwise met.  I absolutely enjoyed the historical references and found them to be accurate.  Overall, a four star rating in spite of Oprah.

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