The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

12tribes$24.95, 256 pages, Historical Fiction

The story of Hattie Shepherd as told through the voices of her children and grandchild, her twelve tribes.

Author’s Website


NY Times

Journal Gazette & Times Courier Review

This book is the story of young Hattie Shepherd, who moved from Georgia to the city of Philadelphia in search of hope and possibility.  The chapters alter voices and are told from the perspective of her eleven children and one grandchild, hence the title.  The stories often intersect and portray the immense difficulties Hattie faces as she endures a difficult marriage, poverty and the loss of her first two children.  As her children make choices in life concerning their futures, loved ones and their own children, the result is a book that is sometimes heartwarming and sometimes heartwrenching.

I will admit that there were portions of this book that absolutely tugged at my heart.  Told in the changing voices of the offspring of Hattie Shepherd, I loved the variety and change in perspective.  A few of the characters I found harder to follow, however, I would recommend the book to others.  The glimpses of life through Hattie’s children were often disturbing, challenging and difficult to endure.

Appeal Factors: Character-driven, Moving, Heartwrenching

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include:  Jazz by Toni Morrison, Cane River by Lalita Tademy and Long Distance Life by Martia Golden. (accessed May 4, 2013).

Oprah 2.0 Book Club Selection

Book Discussion Questions

After seeing this book for sale in numerous bookstores, I decided to see what the storyline was all about.  An Oprah book club fan (her earlier picks), I was also curious to see what the “new” Oprah 2.0 book club involved.

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Filed under Historical Fiction

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