The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, set during the decades following the Great Migration, begins with Hattie trying to save her twin babies who are suffering from pneumonia. Hattie is 17, recently relocated to Philadelphia, and desperately in love with her twins (though maybe not as in love with their father). She hopes she can help them, but seems to know on some level that her hope will not be enough, and that her pride, her ignorance, her faith in home remedies and lack of professional medical care will ultimately mean the end of their lives. Hattie has many more children who battle their demons in the ensuing chapters. In their struggles, you learn more about Hattie’s demons. You learn the roots of her bitterness, yet you see glimpses of the joys that must have sustained her. Hattie doesn’t overcome as much as she survives. She lasts.
This is an Oprah pick, a genre in itself in my opinion, and it is predictably full of suffering. But, it is beautifully written, well crafted and captivating, a book book groups will be reading and friends will be discussing. If you liked: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Help, The Warmth of Other Suns, give this a try.