May 2017 - The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, by Hannah Tinti


(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #101

Yes! I like this and agree with this -- it will be interesting - will Lily's past come out? Will we find out about Gunderson and Lily? Great point! Because Gunderson seemed a bit scared of Hawley so maybe he changed his answer. Gunderson may have seen Lily as a free spirit - but what did others think of her? So yeah -- I'm really interested in seeing how Lily develops, what we can learn more about her. What the heck happened to her? Does this play into reasons why Hawley was so nomadic? Was it a spiteful decision to return to her hometown? So many questions!

So yes - I do like this stretched out style too - it really works for this book too! Keeping us on the edge of our seats! Don't want to read too far ahead because want to be able to discuss it as it unfolds in the sections each week. :slight_smile:
(It's turning out to be a great choice for a book club read!)

(Elizabeth M. Nosal) #102

Really liked reading through these observations. And the POV chart was cool to see, Penny.

I'm glad you pointed out how your impression of Hawley shifted at the beginning, Kim. In the first few pages the Ring Ding cake indicates a sweeter side of Hawley, but what with the cigarette rolling and his distance during the shooting lesson, I at first thought he would be more of a straight-up outlaw. I like how he's slowly being shaped by Tinti.

We're all picking up on Hawley's isolation (and how that has been passed on to Loo) and there is a moment when he wonders if Amy ever considers taking out her earrings and forgetting the "things that have happened to her." I suppose that is how Hawley sees his scars, as places where his past has more or less been sealed over. And I wonder how much of this shutting down and sealing off is a function of his personality and how much of it has been developed as a coping mechanism through experience. (It comes up again at the end of The Widows when he puts surgical tape on Loo's bite wound: he "...pressed down the corners, until the hurt was sealed.")

About the hole Loo's mother leaves -- one thing that strikes me is how possessive everone is about her. Hawley squirreled away every little scrap of Lily he could and keeps it where he can lock himself away with her.
He's not hiding these things from Loo, but it also doesn't seem like he sharing them, like they ever look over the shrine together or talk about any of it. (Curious to me that his focus is communing with it, not preserving everything, such that it's getting worse for wear.) The way the grandmother refuses to let Loo have the photo and Loo immediately swipes the gloves is so telling. It's like they're all scrabbling around over crumbs, like there's not enough Lily to go around.

I'm not sure what I think of Marshall, so it was good to see others' thoughts. I was a little disappointed Loo jumped to 16 so quickly, but I do think the idea of the two of them sharing a secret for so long is powerful. (Another layer of isolation, with the two of them separated from their peers by this memory.) Interesting that when Marshall tells Loo about Hermes and Aphrodite, her reaction is, "That sounds kind of amazing.... like being alone but not being lonely" (p 66 in HC). Imagine being Marshall getting close to Loo little by little and hearing this response.

I'm enjoying the streched out discussion, too. (Apologies, by the way, for jumping ahead last week. For some reason I thought we could get into specifics once the weekend hit. Sorry for any spoilers. Also, I'd been confused about where Dogtown ended because I'd switched to audio one day when I had a headache -- but the narrator is pretty good, if anyone was wondering.)

(Jennifer D.) #103

Oh, gosh! No worries at all, Elizabeth!! It's a new adventure for all of us!! :blush: I love your additional observations -- and quite liked your comment about thinking Hawley would initially be a "straight-up outlaw". I love that Tinti has got so many layers going on in the novel.

Thank you for saying this!! I had so hoped this would be the case... but without reading it in full ahead of time, it was a bit of a gamble! It did feel like it had a lot that would lend itself well to discussion, and that it would have a broad appeal. It's a bit of an uncategorizable (totally just made up that word ha!) story, so far, which is kind of cool!!

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #104

LOVE THIS!! Fantastic observation @Elizabeth_M_Nosal!! :+1:

(Jane D) #105

Jennifer thanks so much for the summary and this series of questions. I am finding this a very engaging read. I am going to jump in and answer some questions before I go and read everyone else's thoughts and answers.

1. This novel has an interesting structure as chapters jump between the current time and Hawley’s past. As well, years may have gone by (Hawley goes from 16 to 25; Loo goes from 12 to 16). Does this style of storytelling work for you? How are you finding the story, so far?

I enjoy reading books that are structured with gaps and jumps in time. For me they are like a puzzle. From the time that I opened the novel and saw the unusual table of contents, I was eager to discover how the authour was going to reveal the story she was telling. I think that Tinti has found a creative way of telling the stories of father and daughter from different perspectives. We are learning of Hawley's past through his bullet holes and Loo's life from the time they settle back in her mother's home town. Hawley's tale seems to be a coming of age through his run-ins with bullets while Loo's seems to be with her settling in her mother's home town.

2. The novel opens with a gun lesson for 12yo Loo. Is this a bold statement from Hannah Tinti, about what’s to come? What sort of impression does this give you at the very beginning of the story? Do you feel it is unusual for Hawley to own several guns, and strange that he would teach his 12yo how to shoot?

I was stuck the opening of the book. At first I though, o no, is there going to be great deal of gun description in this book. So for a couple paragraphs I was a bit turned off. But it became a great hook to get the reader pulled in. It was at some point reading the first chapter that I recognized that the holes in the slip cover of the novel I have were meant to symbolize bullet holes.
I don't feel that it's odd for some people to own several guns. My father-in-law had a few.. 4-5. He was an occasional deer hunter. I know when my husband was a boy he learned to shoot a gun and went out out in the woods and shot at bottles and such. I think this is probably prudent for those that own guns to teach their children how to use them safely OR keep them locked up.

3. We know from reading the table of contents that alternating chapters are titled for bullets #1 through #12. And we are given a glimpse of Hawley’s scars in the Greasy Pole chapter. After we read about Bullet Number One and Bullet Number Two, how did you feel?

I was not surprised that Hawley got into running with the wrong kind of person at an impressionable age. Anyone who has 12 bullet holes either has really bad luck or is around situations where the lifestyle involves a great deal of gun use. I was a bit shocked with the brazen B&E. It makes me very curious about Hawley's backstory...where he came from....what his parents were like. I am curious when we get to 'Bullet #2' about how he got the $7000. Is it theft, or gambling? I am assuming it was from some nefarious means.

8.We meet several secondary characters -- do you feel they have a strong presence in the novel? Do you feel any of these characters are, or will be, important to Loo as the story progresses?

I just love the real introduction to Loo's grandmother in Dogtown. She has a pineapple knocker on the door but is anything but welcoming to Hawley and Loo. She comes off as very rude when Hawley takes Loo to meet her at aged 12. Yet when 16 year old Loo arrives on her doorstep, she was honest telling Loo that she wasn't ready to meet her. I am anticipating that we will see more of her as the story progresses. I love that she is a weaver and dyes her own fibres. A weaver brings things together to create something. Hawley is riddled with holes, a damaged man. I predict that Loo's grandmother will become an influential person in Loo's coming of age.

10. Which moment, scene, or quote stood out for you in this first section of reading? Are you keen to read on, to find out where this is all going? .
Tinti's storytelling has been very effective in that I find myself 'holding my breath' as the action unfolds. (The chapters Greasy Pole. Bullet #1, Bullet #2 and Dogtown especially) Her writing really helps me paint a picture in my head. I found this to be the case in several chapters.

I will leave this here for now. But just have to say how much I am enjoying the book!

(Jennifer D.) #106

I am so glad to hear this, Jane!! And thank you so much for your great thoughts on what we've read so far. And I am a big fan of your connection between Mabel being a weaver and Hawley and Loo needing mending.

(Mock Turtle) #107

Hi gang -

I'm a bit late joining the conversation, because I was a bit late starting the book. But I'm caught up with the posted discussion schedule now, so ready to chime in.

I admit that I was slow in warming to this book. "Oh no, not ANOTHER dead unremembered mother whose sainted memory is enshrined by a less-than-stellar father! Not ANOTHER child protagonist damaged beyond repair by absence of said mother!"

HOWEVER. Now that I am just about halfway through the novel (finished "Weathervanes" and am into "Bullet Number Four"), I am liking it more and more. I am intrigued by the exploration of the unknown lives our parents led before they knew each other, and before they knew us. I am finding the Lily I have gotten to know so far to be much more interesting than any of the other characters. Up until now, I have found the "Bullet" chapters to be more absorbing than any of Loo's and Hawley's sad, shabby thrashing about in the "present day." But with the adventures and revelations of "Weathervanes," I sense that may be about to change.

(Jennifer D.) #108

I am so happy to hear that you are feeling warmer towards the book as you are reading further into the story! YAY!! :blush:

(Jennifer D.) #109

I am just about to hunker down and read the second section from our schedule. SO looking forward to some dedicated time to get back to the story!!

I hope you all have been having a great week, and that you also get in some good reading time for part 2.


(Jennifer D.) #110

How's everybody's reading going this week?

(NO pressure!! Just curious if you have had reading time this week, or if you have planned to get some reading in this weekend. My own week has been very busy, so I am definitely using the weekend to get my reading caught up.)


(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #111

I've read up to the end of Weathervanes, and this weekend can get back to it and will read this section:
May 14th - 20th: Chapters "Bullet #5" through end of "Fireworks"
(HC pgs 163-241)

But, I think I might need to now read it all the way through? I haven't read any of it this week, once I got to the end of Weathervanes, and I'm thinking it may be starting to get away on me - like not remembering what happened from where I left off.
The summaries for sure help and the questions - so these parts of the book club discussion always very work well for me! (Thanks for doing that for us @Jennifer_D)

(Mock Turtle) #112

I am now more than caught up, and am absolutely a convert to being a fan of this book. I will not discuss details yet, but suffice to say that "Bullet Number Six" showed me what the story is really all about, and it's so much more than I thought at first. I just now finished "Seven, Eight, Nine," and HO-LEE COW! Now I'm peeved that lunchtime reading is over and I have to work all afternoon instead of reading on.

(Kim@Time2Read) #113 you have me intrigued! I can't wait to get to bullet #6. But for now at least, I am going to try to stay on schedule.

(Kim@Time2Read) #114

I had a slow start this week, but I picked up the book last night before I fell asleep and was able to finish this week's reading this afternoon. Can't wait for the discussion so that I can go on to the next section!

(Jennifer D.) #115

This is very cool to hear, @Mock_Turtle!! I am excited to get back to the book today!!! :slight_smile:

(Jennifer D.) #116

I finished this week's section of reading this morning... and... it's getting even more interesting!

I've been working on the summary and discussion questions, which I will share tomorrow morning. I truly can't wait to hear everyone's thoughts, and pick apart the happenings in this part of the reading with you all!!

My husband asked me about this book, from the cover... and, just based on my description to him, he's developed a theory! Heh!! I actually kind of went... HMM?? MAYBE! WHO KNOWS?!? :joy:

these are the front and back covers of my edition:

I hope you are all having a great weekend!!

(Jennifer D.) #117

Welcome to our second week of open discussions!!

This is what's on topic for today:

May 7th - 13th: Chapters "Bullet Number Three" through end of "Weathervanes"
(HC pgs 82-162; PB pgs 104-205)

Please remember that what follows is only provided as prompts or launching points to help our discussions. Feel free to share your own questions or observations about any aspect of our reading, up to the end of the 'Weathervanes' chapter. Please don't feel limited or restricted by the questions provided. :blush:


Chapter 7: “Bullet Number Three”

  • Hawley is 29yo, with Jove again in Seattle, working for Ed King - a prison friend of Jove’s
  • They are headed to Talbot’s to retrieve something he stole from King
  • The previous night, Hawley got into a fight in a bar, when two guys tried to steal Jove’s wallet - hurting them felt good to Hawley.
  • Have to take the ferry across the sound to get to Talbot’s, and drive stolen car to the edge of Talbot’s property.
  • Talbot’s wife, maureen, answers the door, and ends up with a smashed nose, when Hawley prevents her from closing them out. Talbot’s out fishing.
  • Hawley searches the house while Jove holds Maureen in place at gunpoint
  • Maureen burns Jove with boiling water from the kettle - gets to bathroom and into the tub with cool water
  • Maureen screams a warning as she hears Talbot on the porch
  • Maureen has identified Hawley as a drinker, and Hawley considers her offer of alcohol… and all it represents “weakness and lies” (p. 118 PB)
  • Hawley is attracted to Maureen. He thinks there is a 20 year age difference between them.
  • Talbot shoots into the house -- hitting Hawley in the shoulder, and Maureen in the neck
  • With Maureen injured, Talbot tells Hawley where to find what they are looking for, in the pocket of Maureen’s wedding dress
  • The item is a rare and valuable watch -- apparently worth $11 million
  • Hawley helps Maureen to Talbot, who takes her off to be treated for her injury, but threatens Hawley
  • Hawley checks on Jove. get out to car, but Talbot has smashed it. They go to Talbot’s dinghy to cross the sound
  • They have an encounter with a whale
  • Hawley says he’s finished with all of this.

Chapter 8: “Firebird”

  • Loo is in principal Gunderson’s office - he wants her to think about college or trade school
  • Loo’s been skipping biology class since the kiss with Marshall
  • Bio teacher wants to fail Loo but Gunderson has worked out a compromise which involves Loo writing a report, and working at his family’s restaurant the Sawtooth
  • Hawley aware of the plan, and Gunderson says it was Hawley’s idea. “If you’re old enough to go out partying you’re old enough to have a job.” (p. 137 PB) “Supporting yourself isn’t a lesson, it’s a reality.” (p. 138 PB)
  • Loo carries Lily’s gloves with her, and keeps this secret from Hawley. Loo also reads the papers about Lily’s death and funeral
  • Mary Titus also works at the Sawtooth
  • Loo hides her earnings - Hawley finds it and tells her she needs to get better at hiding things
  • Loo hasn’t returned Mabel’s car yet - she likes the freedom she feels driving it
  • She goes for a drive out to the beach. Imagines she is seeing her mother in the water, but it’s Marshall
  • Marshall had jumped in from the dock as the petition he was working on for his mom blew into the water - he was dressed in nice clothes and still had his shoes on
  • Loo takes marshall to her house and gives him dry clothes. He sees the photos of Lily. Sees Loo’s planisphere. Sees a .357 on the counter
  • Loo tells Marshal her names is short for Louise
  • She teaches Marshall how to shoot “It’s instinct. You’re afraid of what’s coming. But that’s the best part.” (p. 152 PB)

Chapter 9: “Bullet Number Four”

  • Hawley in a diner to meet Ed King - Hawley has just finished a string of jobs in Florida, 2 that went well and 1 that did not
  • He’s in North Carolina, heading north. Contemplating Nova Scotia once this favour for King is done
  • Woman comes into the diner, dressed in black with gloves, a hat, and heels
  • Hawley and the woman start talking. She talks about a meteor shower, and has tiny stars tattooed around her ankle
  • Shares her milkshakes with Hawley
  • She’s been at a funeral. She says it for someone she didn’t really know… her father. (p. 161 PB)
  • King arrive. He and Hawley move to a booth. King orders pork and 8 pieces of pie
  • Jove is back in prison
  • King recognized the woman from the funeral… did not know she was the daughter of Gus. Tells a story about drunk Gus and sober Gus, and how Gus died owing King $5000
  • King grabs the woman by the arm when she tries to leave. She bites him and he lets go. She runs out. Hawley tells King he should let her go, that he doesn’t need the money (that she doesn’t have)
  • Hawley and King (former boxer) begin to fight. Hawley ends up on top of King, and puts a Smith & Wesson in King’s mouth.
  • The diner cook intervenes and says he’s calling the cops
  • Hawley tries to leave. King knocks him out. When Hawley comes too (he’s near the door), the cook and King are wrestling over a shotgun. It goes off and birdshot hits Hawley in the thigh
  • Woman is outside. She helps Hawley to her truck and they take off. They introduce themselves. This is Lily.

Chapter 10: “Weathervanes”

  • Every sunday Loo picks up Marshall in the firebird
  • After grad, they have both convinced their parents for a year off school
  • The woods of Dogtown become their regular spot. They hike Babson’s Boulders and have lunches which Loo has packed
  • They are working to try and recreate the petition, pulling names from the phonebook and forging signatures
  • Marshall gives Loo a book on the solar system, to go with her planisphere
  • Marshall suggests Hawley has so many guns to make up for something else Marshall’s real dad had fish instead of guns
  • Marshall runs out of paper while drawing, so Loo tells him to draw Neptune on her back
  • By the time they leave the woods… it seems they have had sex and have no regrets
  • They are pulled over by the police - Mabel has reported the car stolen
  • They are taken to the police station, and Hawley and Mary eventually arrive
  • As they are finally ready to leave, Mary lifts Loo’s shirt and tells Hawley to see what the kids have been up to.
  • Hawley picks up Marshall and throws him
  • More police paperwork required…
  • Loo tells Hawley she didn’t steal the car, and that the car is in Lily’s name. They go to find it on the road, but it’s not there and has gone to impound lot
  • At the impound lot, Hawley shoots out the cameras, and cuts a hole in the fence. He hotwires the car, and opens the gates.
  • Tells Loo they have to steal the other cars, to removes suspicion from them
  • Hawley also tells Loo about altering registrations
  • Loo does what she is told and hotwires a car

Discussion Questions:

  1. The water/ocean seems to be having a more important role in this story, the further we get into the reading. What significance is this playing, do you think? Was there special symbolism or purpose to the encounter with the whale?
  2. What did you make of the encounter between Maureen and Hawley?
  3. How would you describe Hawley at this stage in the story? Are you extrapolating and coming up with thoughts about him/his past, and where things are headed? (Is this something you do when you are reading, or do you just let the story take you wherever it’s going?)
  4. What is going unsaid from Hawley to Loo? And is there more below the surface with the life lessons he is verbalizing about Loo being old enough to have a job, and that supporting one’s self is a reality.
  5. Do you think Loo seeing Marshall in the water, but thinking it’s Lily for a moment, is foreshadowing? Or is this something else?
  6. Did you know that the woman in the diner was Lily as soon as she walked in the door? Why do you think Tinti held off identifying Lily until the very end of that chapter?
  7. What kind of man is Ed King? Why do you think Hawley has continued to work for him?
  8. How would you describe the relationship between Loo and Marshall now?
  9. Do you believe the kids are right in forging the replacement petition? Is Marshall justified in his fear of telling Mary about what happened to the original petition?
  10. Why do you think Mabel reported the firebird as stolen?
  11. What is Hawley thinking when he take Lily to steal the car(s) from the impound lot?
  12. What does the chapter title “Weathervanes” mean, in the context of the contents of this chapter?

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #118

Great questions @Jennifer_D!! So many concerning symbolic parts of the story. I love hearing others thoughts on these kind of questions - really helps me chew over deeper meanings in the book.

After reading your summary and looking at the questions - I've just started wondering if something is going to happen with Hawley. Like a major "life" thing. Bringing Loo to Lily's hometown. Telling Loo it's a necessity to take care of yourself, giving her survival tips, etc. What's going on with Hawley? Does he know something he's not sharing?

He's also hyper sensitive about Loo showing too much independence.

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #119

And dying to know about your husband's theory!! :grin:

(Jennifer D.) #120

i don't think what i am about to say is spoilery, but i'll hide it just in case. i have only read as far as our schedule, and this is only what's in my head at this point. :slight_smile:


i have felt all along a big thing with hawley is going to happen. that this is what the story is building towards. he's too alert, and i have the feeling of him always watching his back, just waiting for whatever is coming to find him.

heh!! okay so... this is completely speculation, based on nothing other than my husband seeing the book's covers, and me giving him a VERY brief synopsis of the first few chapters.

in the cover design of my edition, he interpreted Loo as the silhouette on the back (which i mostly agree with because hers is one of the two main voices in the story, but i did also wonder if it could be Lily?). Loo also has the twelve bullet scars/marks. my husband thought it interesting that the wounds of the father are showing on the daughter, and then he said Loo will shoot Hawley. WHAT?!? again -- this is pure speculation. my husband has not read the book at all. :smiley:

  • do you all speculate while you are reading?
  • if you judge a book by it's cover... and then read it, are you often right in your judgments?