Twelve Tribes of Hattie

13320466Let the heavens open up and rejoice! YASSSSSSS!!!! I have finally finished Ayana Mathis’s Twelve Tribes of Hattie. See, y’all just don’t understand. I have been attempting to read this book for the longest. But honey, let me tell ya, I am soo glad I kept reading. At first I was like, naw, I will not read this book simply because Madam Oprah said so. However, I was curious, and before I knew it, I checked out the book. Then I returned it. I just wasn’t ready. Y’all, I was NOT ready, I was bored and was reading other books too. Then I picked up the audiobook, thinking it would help me along and it did. But of course, I had to return that too since there was a hold on it, but I later checked out a book copy. So yeah, this merry go round is finally over, especially since I am FINALLY getting out a post about it.

Whew, so now to the really quick rundown: The book opens with a tragedy that sets the tone for Hattie Shepard’s life, and consequently, her children’s lives. Hattie and her family migrate north where she marries August, who brings unhappiness and disappointment to her life. As a mother of many children, she doesn’t coddle them or handle them with care; she instead wants to prepare them for the harshness of the world, just as she experienced, and that often included her being cold to her children. We see the effects of Hattie’s rearing in their chapters.

Here is a quote that sums up the book for me: “Hattie knew her children did not think her a kind woman-perhaps she wasn’t, but there hadn’t been time for sentiment when they were young. She had failed them in vital ways, but what good would it have done to spend the days hugging and kissing if there hadn’t been anything to put in their bellies? They didn’t understand that all the love she had was taken up with feeding them and clothing them and preparing them to meet the world. The world would not love them; the world would not be kind” (p. 236). If this quote didn’t make me get my life! Now, I know this book isn’t for everyone. I, however, got it; I understood Hattie and had compassion for her. In fact, I recognized Hattie, August, and many of the children in my own life and that made the story relevant. Life isn’t always cute and neat; it is often full of pain and regret. This book brings that out, but not in the depressing way I thought it would.

In sum, I enjoyed it! Ms. O was right about this one. It’s not for all but check it out, it might surprise you.


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