The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

In celebration of Ayana Mathis’s appearance at BookFest on Saturday, September 28, the Glen Ellyn Public Library presents the following information about her debut novel The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. 


Plot Summary

A debut of extraordinary distinction: through the trials of one unforgettable family, Ayana Mathis tells the story of the children of the Great Migration, a story of love and bitterness and the promise of new America.

In 1923, fifteen-year old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with get ant mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their liter lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind.

Beautiful and devastating, Ayana Mathis’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is wondrous from first to last–glorious harrying, unexpectedly uplift and blazing with life. An emotionally transfixing page-turner, a searing portrait of striving in the face of insurmountable adversity, an indelible encounter with the resilience of the human sprite and the driving force of t American dream, Mathis’s first novel heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.


The Oprah Effect:

Oprah Winfrey’s magic touch virtually guarantees a book’s success and The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is no exception. After Oprah selected Hattie to Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 the book worked its way onto the New York Times Bestseller list. Winfrey says, “The opening pages of Ayana’s debut novel tok my breath away…I can’t remember when I read anything the moved me in quite tis way, besides the work of Toni Morrison.”


Useful Links:

Ayana Mathis’s Official Website:

Ayana Mathis’s Facebook Page: 

New York Times Book Review of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie 

USA Today Review of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Related Books:

Music from the Migration:

Blues, Jazz and the Great Migration 

Times is Getting Harder: Blues of the Great Migration 


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