The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)

by Ayana Mathis

NOOK Book(eBook)

$13.99 View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385350297
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/06/2012
Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 2,816
File size: 2 MB

About the 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.

Read an Excerpt

Philadelphia and Jubilee


“Philadelphia and Jubilee!” August said when Hattie told him what she wanted to name their twins. “You cain’t give them babies no crazy names like that!”

Hattie’s mother, if she were still alive, would have agreed with August. She would have said Hattie had chosen vulgar names; “low and showy,” she would have called them. But she was gone, and Hattie wanted to give her babies names that weren’t already chiseled on a headstone in the family plots in Georgia, so she gave them names of promise and of hope, reaching forward names, not looking back ones.

The twins were born in June, during Hattie and August’s first summer as husband and wife. They had rented a house on Wayne Street—it was small, but it was in a good neighborhood and was, August said, just an in-the-meanwhile house. “Until we buy a house of our own,” Hattie said. “Till we sign on that dotted line,” August agreed.

At the end of June robins beset the trees and roofs of Wayne Street. The neighborhood rang with birdsong. The twittering lulled the twins to sleep and put Hattie in such high spirits that she giggled all of the time. It rained every morning, but the afternoons were bright and the grass in Hattie and August’s tiny square of lawn was green as the first day of the world. The ladies of the neighborhood did their baking early, and by noon the block smelled of the strawberry cakes they set on their windowsills to cool. The three of them, Hattie and her twins, dozed in the shade on the porch. The next summer Philadelphia and Jubilee would be walking; they’d totter around the porch like sweet bumbling old men.

Hattie Shepherd looked down at her two babies in their Moses baskets. The twins were seven months old. They breathed easier sitting upright, so she had them propped with small pillows. Only just now had they quieted. The night had been bad. Pneumonia could be cured, though not easily. Better that than mumps or influenza or pleurisy. Better pneumonia than cholera or scarlet fever. Hattie sat on the bathroom floor and leaned against the toilet with her legs stretched in front of her. The window was opaque with steam that condensed into droplets and ran down the panes and over the white wooden frames to pool in the dip in the tile behind the toilet. Hattie had been running the hot water for hours. August was half the night in the basement loading coal into the hot water heater. He had not wanted to leave Hattie and the babies to go to work. Well, but…a day’s work is a day’s pay, and the coal bin was running low. Hattie reassured him: the babies will be alright now the night’s passed.

The doctor had come around the day before and advised the steam cure. He’d prescribed a small dosage of ipecac and cautioned against backward country remedies like hot mustard poultices, though vapor rub was acceptable. He diluted the ipecac with a clear, oily liquid, gave Hattie two small droppers, and showed her how to hold the babies’ tongues down with her finger so the medicine would flow into their throats. August paid three dollars for the visit and set to making mustard poultices the minute the doctor was out the door. Pneumonia.

Somewhere in the neighborhood, a siren wailed so keenly it could have been in front of the house. Hattie struggled up from her place on the floor to wipe a circle in the fogged bathroom window. Nothing but white row houses across the street, crammed together like teeth, and gray patches of ice on the sidewalk and the saplings nearly dead in the frozen squares of dirt allotted to them. Here and there a light shone in an upstairs window—some of the neighborhood men worked the docks like August, some delivered milk or had postal routes; there were schoolteachers too and a slew of others about whom Hattie knew nothing. All over Philadelphia the people rose in the crackling cold to stoke the furnaces in their basements. They were united in these hardships.

A grainy dawn misted up from the bottom of the sky. Hattie closed her eyes and remembered the sunrises of her childhood—these visions were forever tugging at her; her memories of Georgia grew more urgent and pressing with each day she lived in Philadelphia. Every morning of her girlhood the work horn would sound in the bluing dawn, over the fields and the houses and the black gum trees. From her bed Hattie watched the field hands dragging down the road in front of her house. Always the laggards passed after the first horn: pregnant women, the sick and lame, those too old for picking, those with babies strapped to their backs. The horn urged them forward like a lash. Solemn the road and solemn their faces; the breaking white fields waiting, the pickers spilling across those fields like locusts.

Hattie’s babies blinked at her weakly; she tickled each one under the chin. Soon it would be time to change the mustard poultices. Steam billowed from the hot water in the bathtub. She added another handful of eucalyptus. In Georgia, there was a eucalyptus tree in the wood across from Hattie’s house, but the plant had been hard to come by in the Philadelphia winter.

Three days before, the babies’ coughs had worsened. Hattie threw on her coat and went to the Penn Fruit to ask the grocer where she might find eucalyptus. She was sent to a house some blocks away. Hattie was new to Germantown, and she quickly got lost in the warren of streets. When she arrived at her destination, bruised from the cold, she paid a woman fifteen cents for a bag of what she could have had for free in Georgia. “Well, you’re just a little thing!” the eucalyptus woman said. “How old are you, gal?” Hattie bristled at the question but said that she was seventeen and added, so the woman would not mistake her for another newly arrived southern unfortunate, that she was married and her husband was training as an electrician and that they had just moved into a house on Wayne Street. “Well, that’s nice, sugar. Where’re your people?” Hattie blinked quickly and swallowed hard, “Georgia, ma’am.”

“You don’t have anybody up here?”

“My sister, ma’am.” She did not say that her mother had died a year earlier while Hattie was pregnant. The shock of her death, and of being an orphan and a stranger in the North, had driven Hattie’s younger sister, Pearl, back to Georgia. Her older sister, Marion, had gone too, though she said she’d come back once she’d birthed her child and the winter passed. Hattie did not know if she would. The woman regarded Hattie closely. “I’ll come round with you now to look in on your little ones,” she said. Hattie declined. She had been a fool, a silly girl too prideful to admit she needed looking in on. She went home by herself clutching the bag of eucalyptus.

The winter air was a fire around her, burning her clean of everything but the will to make her children well. Her fingers froze into claws around the curled top of the brown paper bag. She burst into the house on Wayne Street with great clarity of mind. She felt she could see into her babies, through their skin and flesh and deep into their rib cages to their weary lungs.

Hattie moved Philadelphia and Jubilee closer to the tub. The additional handful of eucalyptus was too much—the babies squeezed their eyes shut against the menthol mist. Jubilee made a fist and raised her arm as if to rub her running eyes, but she was too weak and her hand dropped back to her side. Hattie kneeled and kissed her little fist. She lifted her daughter’s limp arm—light as a bird bone—and wiped her tears with her hand, as Jubilee would have done if she’d had the strength. “There,” Hattie said. “There, you did it all by yourself.” Jubilee looked up at her mother and smiled. Again, Hattie lifted Jubilee’s hand to her bleary eye. The baby thought it a game of peekaboo and laughed a feeble laugh, ragged and soft and phlegmy, but a laugh nonetheless. Hattie laughed too because her girl was so brave and so good-natured—sick as she was and still bright as a poppy. She had a dimple in one cheek. Her brother, Philadelphia, had two. They didn’t look a thing alike. Jubilee’s hair was black like August’s, and Philadelphia was pale as milk with sandy-brown hair like Hattie’s.

Philadelphia’s breathing was labored. Hattie lifted him out of the basket and sat him on the rim of the tub where the steam was thickest. He was a sack of flour in her arms. His head lolled on his neck and his arms hung at his sides. Hattie shook him gently to revive him. He hadn’t eaten since the evening before—both babies had coughed so violently during the night that they’d vomited the bit of vegetable broth Hattie had managed to feed them. She pushed her son’s eyelid open with her finger, his eyeball rolled in the socket. Hattie didn’t know if he was passed out or sleeping, and if he were passed out, he might not… he might not…

She pushed at his eyelid again. He opened it this time—there’s my boy!—and his lip curled in the way it did when she fed him mashed peas, or he smelled something he didn’t like. Such a fussbudget.

The bright bathroom overwhelmed: white tub, white walls, white tile. Philadelphia coughed, a protracted exhalation of air that shook his body. Hattie took the tin of hot mustard from the radiator and slathered it on his chest. His ribs were twigs beneath her fingers; with the slightest pressure, they would snap and fall into the cavity of his chest. He had been, both had been, so fat when they were well. Philadelphia lifted his head, but he was so exhausted that it dropped; his chin bumped against Hattie’s shoulder as it had when he was a newborn and just learning to hold up his head.

Hattie walked circles around the little bathroom, rubbing Philadelphia’s back between his shoulder blades. When he wheezed, his foot flexed and kicked her stomach; when he breathed, it relaxed. The floor was slippery. She sang nonsense syllables—ta ta ta, dum dum, ta ta. She couldn’t remember the words to anything.

Water dripped from the windows and from the faucets and down the wall into the panel around the light switch. The whole bathroom dripped like a Georgia wood after a rainstorm. Something buzzed, then fizzled inside the wall, and the overhead light went out. The bathroom was all blue and fog. My God, Hattie thought, now this. She leaned her head against the doorjamb and closed her eyes. She was three days without sleep. A recollection descended on her like a faint: Hattie and her mother and sisters walking through the woods at dawn. Mama first with two large travel bags and the three girls behind, carrying carpetbagger satchels. Through the early morning mist and the underbrush, they made their way to town, skirts snagging on branches. They snuck like thieves through the woods to catch an early morning train out of Georgia. Hattie’s father was not two days dead, and at that very moment the white men were taking his name plaque from the door of his blacksmith shop and putting up their own. “Have mercy on us,” Mama said when the first horn sounded from the fields.

Philadelphia’s foot dug into Hattie’s belly button, and she was jolted awake, back into the bathroom with her children, startled and angry with herself for drifting away from them. Both began to cry. They choked and shuddered together. The illness gathered force, first in one child and then the other, and then, as though it had been waiting for that moment to do its worst, it struck like a two-pronged bolt of lightning. Mercy, Lord. Mercy.

Hattie’s babies burned brightly: their fevers spiked, their legs wheeled, their cheeks went red as suns. Hattie took the bottle of ipecac from the medicine cabinet and dosed them. They coughed too hard to swallow—the medicine dribbled from the sides of their mouths. Hattie wiped her children’s faces and gave them more ipecac and massaged their heaving chests. Her hands moved expertly from task to task. Her hands were quick and capable even as Hattie wept and pleaded.

How her babies burned! How they wanted to live! Hattie had thought, when given over to such thoughts, that her children’s souls were thimbles of fog; wispy and ungraspable. She was just a girl—only seventeen years longer on the earth than her children. Hattie understood them as extensions of herself and loved them because they were hers and because they were defenseless and because they needed her. But she looked at her babies now and saw that the life inside them was muscled and mighty and would not be driven from them. “Fight,” Hattie urged. “Like this,” she said and blew the air in and out of her own lungs, in solidarity with them, to show them it was possible. “Like this,” she said again.

Hattie sat cross-legged on the floor with Jubilee balanced in the crook of one knee and Philadelphia in the other. She patted their backs to bring the phlegm up and out. The babies’ feet overlapped in the triangle of space between Hattie’s folded legs —their energy was flagging and they leaned against her thighs. If she lived to be one hundred, Hattie would still see, as clearly as she saw her babies slumped before her now, her father’s body collapsed in the corner of his smithy, the two white men from town walking away from his shop without enough shame to quicken their pace or hide their guns. Hattie had seen that and she could not unsee it.

In Georgia the preacher had called the North a New Jerusalem. The congregation said he was a traitor to the cause of the southern Negro. He was gone the next day on a train to Chicago. Others too were going, disappearing from their shops or the fields; their seats on the church pew occupied at Sunday service and empty by Wednesday prayer meeting. All of those souls, escaped from the South, were at this very moment glowing with promise in the wretched winters of the cities of the North. Hattie knew her babies would survive. Though they were small and struggling, Philadelphia and Jubilee were already among thos luminous souls, already the beginning of a new nation.

Thirty-two hours after Hattie and her mother and sisters crept through the Georgia woods to the train station, thirty-two hours on hard seats in the commotion of the Negro car, Hattie was startled from a light sleep by the train conductor’s bellow, “Broad Street Station, Philadelphia!” Hattie clambered from the train, her skirt still hemmed with Georgia mud, the dream of Philadelphia round as a marble in her mouth and the fear of it a needle in her chest. Hattie and Mama, Pearl and Marion climbed the steps from the train platform up into the main hall of the station. It was dim despite the midday sun. The domed roof arched. Pigeons cooed in the rafters. Hattie was only fifteen then, slim as a finger. She stood with her mother and sisters at the crowd’s edge, the four of them waiting for a break in the flow of people so they too might move toward the double doors at the far end of the station. Hattie stepped into the multitude. Mama called, “Come back! You’ll be lost in all those people. You’ll be lost!” Hattie looked back in panic; she thought her mother was right behind her. The crowd was too thick for her to turn back, and she was borne along on the current of people. She gained the double doors and was pushed out onto a long sidewalk that ran the length of the station.

The main thoroughfare was congested with more people than Hattie had ever seen in one place. The sun was high. Automobile exhaust hung in the air alongside the tar smell of freshly laid asphalt and the sickening odor of garbage rotting. Wheels rumbled on the paving stones, engines revved, paperboys called the headlines. Across the street a man in dirty clothes stood on the corner wailing a song, his hands at his sides, palms upturned. Hattie resisted the urge to cover her ears to block the rushing city sounds. She smelled the absence of trees before she saw it. Things were bigger in Philadelphia—that was true—and there was more of everything, too much of everything. But Hattie did not see a promised land in this tumult. It was, she thought, only Atlanta on a larger scale. She could manage it. But even as she declared herself adequate to the city, her knees knocked under her skirt and sweat rolled down her back. A hundred people had passed her in the few moments she’d been standing outside, but none of them were her mother and sisters. Hattie’s eyes hurt with the effort of scanning the faces of the passersby.

A cart at the end of the sidewalk caught her eye. Hattie had never seen a flower vendor’s cart. A white man sat on a stool with his shirtsleeves rolled and his hat tipped forward against the sun. Hattie set her satchel on the sidewalk and wiped her sweaty palms on her skirt. A Negro woman approached the cart. She indicated a bunch of flowers. The white man stood—he did not hesitate, his body didn’t contort into a posture of menace—and took the flowers from a bucket. Before wrapping them in paper, he shook the water gently from the stems. The Negro woman handed him the money. Had their hands brushed?

As the woman took her change and moved to put it in her purse, she upset three of the flower arrangements. Vases and blossoms tumbled from the cart and crashed on the pavement. Hattie stiffened, waiting for the inevitable explosion. She waited for the other Negroes to step back and away from the object of the violence that was surely coming. She waited for the moment in which she would have to shield her eyes from the woman and whatever horror would ensue. The vendor stooped to pick up the mess. The Negro woman gestured apologetically and reached into her purse again, presumably to pay for what she’d damaged. In a couple of minutes it was all settled, and the woman walked on down the street with her nose in the paper cone of flowers, as if nothing had happened.

Hattie looked more closely at the crowd on the sidewalk. The Negroes did not step into the gutters to let the whites pass and they did not stare doggedly at their own feet. Four Negro girls walked by, teenagers like Hattie, chatting to one another. Just girls in conversation, giggling and easy, the way only white girls walked and talked in the city streets of Georgia. Hattie leaned forward to watch their progress down the block. At last, her mother and sisters exited the station and came to stand next to her. “Mama,” Hattie said. “I’ll never go back. Never.”

Philadelphia pitched forward and struck his forehead on Jubilee’s shoulder before Hattie could catch him. He breathed in ragged wet whistles. His hands were open and limp at his sides. Hattie shook him; he flopped like a rag doll. Jubilee too was weakening. She could hold her head up, but she couldn’t focus her eyes. Hattie held both babies in her arms and made an awkward lunge for the bottle of ipecac. Philadelphia made a low choking sound and looked up at his mother, bewildered. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t understand either. I’ll make it better. I’m so sorry.” The ipecac slipped from her grasp and shattered against the tile. Hattie squatted next to the tub, Philadelphia in one arm and Jubilee balanced in her lap. She turned the faucet for the hot water and waited. Jubilee coughed as best she could, as best she could she pulled the air into her body. Hattie put her fingertips to the running water. It was ice cold.

There was no time to load the furnace in the basement and no time to wait for the water to heat. Philadelphia was listless, his leg kicked against Hattie’s stomach involuntarily. His head lay heavy on her shoulder. Hattie crossed the bathroom. She stepped on the shards from the broken bottle and cut her foot; she bloodied the white tile and the wood floor in the hallway. In her bedroom she pulled the quilt from her bed and wrapped it around her children. In an instant she’d descended the stairs and was putting on her shoes in the small foyer. The splinter of glass in her foot pushed in more deeply. She was out the door and down the porch steps. Wisps of condensation rose from her damp housedress and bare arms and faded into the cold, clear air. The sun was fully risen.

Hattie banged on a neighbor’s door. “They have pneumonia!”she said to the woman who answered. “Please help me.” Hattie didn’t know her name. Inside, the neighbor pulled back the quilt to reveal Jubilee and Philadelphia inert against their mother’s chest. “Oh sweet Lord,” she said. A young boy, the woman’s son, came into the living room. “Go for the doctor!” the woman shouted. She took Philadelphia from Hattie and ran up the stairs with him in her arms. Hattie followed, Jubilee limp against her.

“He’s still breathing,” the woman said. “Long as he’s still breathing.”

In the bathroom she plugged the tub. Hattie stood in the doorway, bouncing Jubilee, her hope waning as she watched the woman turn the hot water to full blast.

“I already did this!” Hattie cried. “Isn’t there anything else?”

The woman gave Philadelphia back to Hattie and rooted around in the medicine cabinet. She came away with a tin of camphor rub that she unscrewed and waved under the babies’ noses like smelling salts. Only Jubilee jerked her head away from the odor. Hattie was overwhelmed with futility—all this time she’d been fighting to save her babies, only to end up in another bathroom just like her own, with a woman as helpless against their illness as she was.

“What can I do?” Hattie looked at the woman through the steam. “Please tell me what to do.”

The neighbor found a glass tube with a bulb at the end; she used it to suction mucus from the babies’ noses and mouths. She kneeled in front of Hattie, near tears. “Dear Lord. Please, dear Lord, help us.” The woman suctioned and prayed.

Both babies’ eyelids were swollen and red with broken capillaries. Their breathing was shallow. Their chests rose and fell too quickly. Hattie did not know if Philadelphia and Jubilee were scared or if they understood what was happening to them. She didn’t know how to comfort them, but she wanted her voice to be the last in their ears, her face the last in their eyes. Hattie kissed her babies’ foreheads and cheeks. Their heads fell back against her arms. Between breaths, their eyes opened wide in panic. She heard a wet gurgling deep in their chests. They were drowning. Hattie could not bear their suffering, but she wanted them to go in peace, so she didn’t scream. She called them precious, she called them light and promise and cloud. The neighbor woman prayed in a steady murmur. She kept her hand on Hattie’s knee. The woman wouldn’t let go, even when Hattie tried to shake her off. It wasn’t much, but she tried to make it so the girl didn’t live this alone.

Jubilee fought the longest. She reached feebly for Philadelphia, but she was too weak to straighten her arm. Hattie put his hand into hers. She squeezed her babies. She rocked them. She pressed her cheeks to the tops of their heads. Oh, their velvet skin! She felt their deaths like a ripping in her body.

Hattie’s children died in the order in which they were born: first Philadelphia, then Jubilee.

Excerpted from THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE by Ayana Mathis. Copyright © 2012 by Ayana Mathis. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie: A Novel 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 279 reviews.
Hipster_dufas1 More than 1 year ago
I don't always agree with Oprah, but this one is definitely a winner. Grabs you from the beginning and doesn't lrt go.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book, but wished the characters would have been developed further. Did not care for the sudden ending.
VirtuousV More than 1 year ago
Life is not always what you expect.  When you make choices whether to choose one thing or one person over another you belief that you've made the right choice.  The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is about sexuality, adultery, life, consequences, circumstances and choices.  In 1923, Hattie Shepherd, was just fifteen years old, when she made the decision to leave Georgia for a better life in Philadelphia to start a family and become a wife. Her life was hard, challenging and the decisions she made were based upon her in-experiences of life.  These challenges, as seen through the eyes of her children, caused them tremendous stress, dysfunction and unforgiveness throughout their adulthood. Her children did not fully understand that she too was young and inexperienced to make these types of decisions but Hattie did not fully understand that her inexperience decisions would cause indecisiveness in the development of her children.  A decision that Hattie made came back to haunt her years later through the decision of her daughter.  Ayana Mathis takes us on a journey to generational curses and how they can greatly affect the future.  
TurqStarfire More than 1 year ago
A very powerful first novel !!! Ayana Mathis has this incredible talent to make the reader feel every ounce of Hattie's pain and anguish... it was almost like I was Hattie and it was happening to me....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate this kind of writing. There is no plot, no moral, no fully formed characters. There also are no redeeming features to this depressing drivel whatsoever. It reminds me of high school girls writing overly dramatic essays full of 'OMG!' That speaks to the depth of the novel adequately. Perhaps someday this author can find a true voice which speaks of joy, redemption, or lessons learned. Or, novel idea, tells a STORY! I admit I was caught by the Oprah hook, much to my regret. Readers, find a good book to spend your hard earned dollars on and give this author a wide berth until she really has something to say.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I so wanted to love this book.   When will I learn that if Oprah puts her seal on it, odds are the book will be steeped in realism, which in itself is OK, but this one teased of an ending that would be redeemed by Hattie's humanity finally being explored.  I didn't need happy endings or anyone being saved, but the ending was just too abrupt with Hattie.s anger and sadness ending only because she was too old and tired to hang on to them.  The hours spent reinvested in reading the book feel wasted.  Surely, one of the characters would have c grown  to have at least 1 happy day in their  lives?  If so the book doesn't even allude to one.  Big downer!
JackieRNY More than 1 year ago
This is not an uplifting book and the characters are, for the most part, sad and miserable. The beginning was good and caught my attention, but after the first few pages it was not as captivating. Wish I had just taken it out of the library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would still recommend reading this but wish the characters would have come full circle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like the type of story where everybody is miserable their entire lives and no matter what choices the different characters make then you'll like this book. I just don't see the point to yet another book where everyone's lives turn out horribly simply because the author thinks they will get reviews with words like "riveting" or "mesmerizing" or whatever else. The ending seemed like the author ran out of ideas and ended it abruptly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It caught my attention in the begining but it Never got to the point .. miserable doomed characters and a quick pointless ending.... boooooo
Juni2372 More than 1 year ago
Personally, Ioved this book. Not a huge Oprah Book Club fan. This book, however, grabbed my attention and heart immediately and carried me quickly to the ending. Definite read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why did I buy this book, why did I read the whole thing? I kept hoping something positive or redeeming would happen, something that would be the aha moment of investing time in reading this. It's not there. Why does Oprah recommend this book?! Is she friends with the author?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't even finish this book. It jumps around so much and makes no sense. I wish I had not wasted my money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I wanted to know more about each character's story. It was almost like reading a collection of short stories.
Giovina More than 1 year ago
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is a rare debut novel. The story is captivating from the very first page. I could not read fast enough to know what was going to happen next. I purchased the hardcover and the e-book as I was going on a trip for a few days and didn't want to miss any time I could be reading! Ms. Mathis writes like a seasoned veteran of the printed word. I truly look forward to her next work. Thank you Ms. Mathis for this special treat in fine writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While this book had lots of promise, it failed to deliver. The book doesn't flow smoothly. I found myself guessing who the character was. with each new chapter I would have to assume that it was one of Hatties children talking. It would skip back and forth and really didn,t flow.
oop4dst More than 1 year ago
I'm really enjoying this book. You don't know what to expect with each new chapter (tribe/child of Hattie). Each chapter covers one of Hattie's children. You have to read the chapter to kind of figure out what's going on and I love that it's not predictable. It's definitely a great read for a book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read, and i am dissapointed to see others reviews. The story is told in a family's point of view as opposed to just a single character's view, and as unlikable or difficult one character is, you see thier view and understand them. Highly recommended. I am so glad i found this book, I didn't want it to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book only wish the writer would have told how.each child's life was either made better or how what happened to them. And nothing else was mentioned about the daughter hattie had by Lawrence. I really liked the book but was left with questions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it with our book club. Did not care for the writing as it was awkward. The format of each chapter being on a different person and time was interesting and unique. Stories were depressing and most of the characters very strange. Would have liked just a few to be achievers or overcome their circumstances. What an odd collection. The think I liked the least is that there seemed to be no message or lesson here about life. What a sad glimpse into a family's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Read it before Oprah put it on her list. My mom came from a big family like this. It helped me realize how no matter how much a mother loves her children each child does not receive it the same and shouldn't be treated the same. You can never tell how your children will turn out.
mshoni More than 1 year ago
Over the years, I've developed an affinity for the short story format that I once despised. Mathis uses the Great Migration of African-Americans from the South to the North to kick off this saga of a family's history told through linked short stories. After moving from Georgia to Philadelphia, 15 year old Hattie and her husband August have settled in their new city and are celebrating the birth of their twins, Philadelphia and Jubilee. In the first story, named for the twins, Hattie is nursing them through a bout of pneumonia.  Two pages in, I was hooked. The writing was so vivid and beautiful that I felt that I was in the room with those sick babies and was moved to tears while reading on my commute to work. (I'm sure the other passengers thought I was going through some things.)  Each subsequent chapter focuses on the couple's 9 other children and takes us from 1925 to the 1980's giving us insight not only into the lives of each person, but also the nature of the family dynamic and each person's role in it. Children from large families at times have very different relationships with their parents than their siblings and I love that each story reflected that while also checking in with Hattie and August.
good_women_2013 More than 1 year ago
Ayana Mathis’The Twelve Tribes of Hattie was an emotional journey from beginning to the very last word of the book. The dynamics in which she portrayed her tribes left many readers unsure about, although obvious, to me, whom was Hattie’s ‘twelfth tribe’. Hattie-- a courageous, callous, strong yet loving mother and wife left a lot to be desired. She was described as a beautiful woman physically but life circumstances created an ‘undesired’ and ‘unfair’ portrait of her. The author amazingly draws you into Hattie’s and the characters life with vivid depictions of the times and environment. Leaving no stone unturned current issues we face and struggle with today were very much apparent in times past – marital woes, infidelity, sexual identity crisis, discrimination, sibling relationships, forgiveness, mental illness, poverty and suffering. Every reader will relate to some part of Hattie and the characters, even if it’s just a micro inkling of that ‘something’ that will cause some comfort to know that ‘there indeed isn’t anything new under the sun’ and at that point is when you will begin to understand Hattie and not judge her so harshly. However, you have to remove your shades of judgment as you visit each tribe …hang in there, exercise patience. The kind of patience you feel you deserve when you make decisions that were not very wise and pray that you are given another opportunity for a ‘do over’. As a mother, I know we sometimes have to make decisions to ‘the best of our ability’ that those looking from the outside don’t understand. Granted ‘the best of our ability’ entails many components such as our past experiences, emotions, education & the duty of the moment that many aren’t privy too or would approve. Having been in need of ‘grace & mercy’ in my past, present and days to come ‘The Twelve Tribes of Hattie’ enlightened my remembrance of the NEW mercies God grants us every morning! I purposely didn’t disclose a lot of details about the book because I hope that if you haven’t read it this review will entice you to do so and then come back and join the discussion. I felt Hattie was a complex character and the more I read the more I began to see the beauty in the picture Mathis was painting. But as the dots began to form visually for me the more I began to strike my presupposition of labeling her callous to realizing it was strength, yet strange and somewhat foreign. As I closed my Kindle I became hopeful and was gently nudged to remember ‘change is possible’! To my BBC members and our Facebook Friends who have read the book please briefly share your thoughts of Hattie or any of the other characters. ~ Katie Brownstone Book Club Member
MicheleMMB More than 1 year ago
Worthwhile read.  A look at how our choices, other's choices and our community can affect our lives and the lives of those we love.  Many mother's of young children can related how you pulled in so many levels to meet so many needs  that at the end of the day you have nothing left for yourself.  Multiply those feeling times 11 children and a useless husband.  You are the sole responsible one.  You understand how Hattie is looked at as a "General" by her children, cold and unfeeling.  She is just "trying to the best she can" and get her children for the real world. Many didn't like the abrupt ending.  I thought it was wonderful.  In her granddaughter she realizes she can support her without pushing her away.  She had the courage to give Sala tenderness,  although "rough", which was a huge stepping step for Hattie after 55 years of being "the general."
crucesignatus More than 1 year ago
TRASH! What could have been a sympathetic account of a black woman's struggles and travails, the loss of her two young children, by the second chapter took a plunge into gratuitous filth of the kind once peddled under plain brown wrappers. Worse yet was the message of Hattie raising her children without affection or kindness so that they could survive in a cruel world, a prescription for sociopathic behavior, depression, or suicide. If this book was screened at all, it was not past the first few pages. Oprah should have read it and not given her uncritical endorsement simply because the author was young, aspiring, and black.