The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

the New York Times bestseller

Summary

'The opening pages of Ayana's debut took my breath away. I can't remember when I read anything that moved me quite this way, besides the work of Toni Morrison.' Oprah Winfrey


Fifteen years old and blazing with the hope of a better life, Hattie Shepherd fled the horror of the American South on a dawn train bound for Philadelphia.

Hattie’s is a tale of strength, of resilience and heartbreak that spans six decades. Her American dream is shattered time and again: a husband who lies and cheats and nine children raised in a cramped little house that was only ever supposed to be temporary.

She keeps the children alive with sheer will and not an ounce of the affection they crave. She knows they don’t think her a kind woman — but how could they understand that all the love she had was used up in feeding them and clothing them.

How do you prepare your children for a world you know is cruel?

The lives of this unforgettable family form a searing portrait of twentieth century America. From the revivalist tents of Alabama to Vietnam, to the black middle-class enclave in the heart of the city, to a filthy bar in the ghetto, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is an extraordinary, distinctive novel about the guilt, sacrifice, responsibility and heartbreak that are an intrinsic part of ferocious love.

Reviews

  • Mathis traces the fates of Hattie's 12 children and grandchildren over the course of the 20th century, simultaneously capturing the voices and daily minutiae of every one of her characters ... A complex and engrossing work that has huge commercial hit written all over ... Remarkable.
    Sunday Times

About the author

Ayana Mathis

Ayana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, her first novel and a New York Times bestseller, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the second selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. She lives and writes in Brooklyn.
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