Friday, May 24, 2013

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis

This novel is actually more like a series of interwoven short stories, focusing on the various children of the central character Hattie. Although most of the stories are riveting in and of themselves, none of the individual characters are adequately developed, nor are the relationships between the siblings particularly well defined. More disappointingly, Hattie herself is a rather shadowy figure, not coming together well into one cohesive portrait from the depictions of her rendered by her offspring. There are simply too many points of view at work here, tearing the narrative in many directions, and Mathis would have probably done better to focus on only a few of the children as her main characters. Fans of The Help by Kathryn Stockett will doubtlessly be interested to read The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, but will not necessarily find this tale as moving or articulate.

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