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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
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really liked it

12 Tribes of Hattie, is not, as you might expect, as I expected, specifically about the title character. Instead, it is about her 12 tribes, her children. The title, I assume, is borrowed from the Biblical story of Joseph, as he and his brothers are considered the 12 tribes of Israel. As in the Biblical story, there is family strife and hardship, in which the family alternates between fighting each other and joining forces. Ayana Mathis has wonderful language and introduces us to each child in a manner that will pull at your emotions, from sadness to pity to confusion, and hoping that someone will make you smile.

Each of the chapters is about Hattie's children, from infants to adults, from birth to death. None of the chapters are actually about Hattie herself; they all focus on one or a few of the children, and mention Hattie as it relates to mothering that child. You could argue that Ruthie's chapter is about Hattie, but without the baby, Hattie never would've went to Baltimore in the first place. None of the chapters are about all of the children, although a few are about two or three. For instance, Six's accident occurs in the presence of his sisters. Ms. Mathis' approach struck me because, intentionally or not, it conveyed the message that as a mother, you no longer have your own story, you are now the back story for your children.

This is a great book club discussion, especially for mothers. Aside from the literary aspects of the book, my group also talked about how mother's should, can, and do relate to their children. How does the way we raise our children affect them as they grow up? What does and doesn't matter? What's it take to stay in a marriage?

I love a book that comes off the pages and wants to be part of your life. This book does that.

*Coincidentally, I went to a funeral for a woman who had 8 children soon after finishing this book. More on how her children's message reminded me of Hattie's story is on my blog, Just Piddlin' -
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 13, 2013 – Finished Reading
March 22, 2013 – Shelved

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