Book Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (Hannah Tinti, 2017) – After years spent on the run, Hawley moves into his late wife’s hometown with his daughter Loo, who has begun to question the cause of her mother’s passing.


On love and loss, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is rich with poignancy, evoked by perfect cadence and thoroughly beautiful prose.



Every scar tells a story. The twelve on Sam Hawley’s body reveal his dark past, where his reckless crimes have left him trapped in a cycle of endless retribution. What is his to bear, afflicts his family just the same. A constant shadow looms over his indisputable yet tainted love for his child Loo.

In unravelling the reasons for Sam’s broken self, author Hannah Tinti adeptly weaves the complicated lives of father and daughter in The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. Tinti captivates with her beautiful prose, making astute observations of selfless familial love that is not always visible.

Through his twelve visible bullet wounds, we see Hawley pay for the choices he made in his youth. There are hidden scars too, scabs that have healed over and the ones buried deep in his heart. In the present, he chooses to suffer indignation in silence, if only to protect his daughter, as he once did his wife. But his past mistakes keeps pulling him back into a downward spiral, Loo along with him.

There is none more affecting than to see what Hawley has painstakingly built for his daughter, come apart at the seams. How bittersweet to see Loo pull herself together and grow too fast against adversity. She learns to deal with her circumstances without condemning her only family, her maturity allowing them to save each other time and again.

Hawley’s fallibility makes him hard to love. But there is no hate for a man who tries his hardest to make amends. It is heartrending to feel every bit of his torment through Tinti’s powerful words, which never leaves hope far behind in Loo’s forging of her own path against all odds.


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