Expected Publication Date: March 28, 2017
This was a beautiful story of a father – daughter relationship. It tells of a past pertaining to the father, Samuel Hawley, from which he is trying to protect his daughter at all costs. His past is Herculean, it is a time of it’s own, yet it cannot be separated from the present. He has scars from twelve bullets. Twelve bullets are the equivalent of the twelve tasks of Hercules, the twelve hours on a clock. Hawley’s past is shady, but he is a good man and wants the best for his daughter. His job now is taking care of his daughter. The chapters describing the circumstances leading up to each bullet striking him alternate with chapters about his daughter coming of age. It is a unique intersecting of two lives, one in the past and one in the present.
The setting is Gloucester, Massachusetts, a fishing town that has a renowned greasy pole competition in the summer. However, the author has renamed Gloucester Olympus, giving it heroic proportions, suitable for the Hercules of this novel to tackle. He tackles it with humility and for his daughter. He does not enter the competition to win glory for himself. The town is well developed in the novel. The reader gets a sense of the determination and culture of the fishermen. This is set against the environmentalists embodied by Mary Titus who are fighting to protect against overfishing.
Hawley’s past is tainted. It is rough and difficult, full of narrow escapes. The daughter, Loo, is youthful, more innocent. Their relationship is full of respect and love. She doesn’t fully understand who he is, but she is starting too. She may be innocent, but even she carries pieces of his past within her. She often feels that sour taste rising in the back of her throat driving her to violence. In returning to her mother’s hometown, she is subject to bullying, but learns to fight for herself. She falls for a boy. She starts a waitressing job. She is coming of age, understanding her father better and the world at large.
This is a beautiful book which I highly recommend! I loved the intersection of an exciting shoot ’em up novel combined with a coming-of-age story and the subtle shift in the relationship between father and daughter. It was beautifully executed and seemingly timeless. It was tender and sweet plus keep-you-on-your-toes, exciting.
Photo from obs-us.com
Photo from Boston.com
- The author states in the afterward that the 3 themes she is trying to develop are time, death and love. How are these developed throughout the novel? Which theme do you think is most important?
- In exploring the theme of time, how does the past influence the present and the future in this novel?
- Discuss the comparison between Samuel Hawley and Hercules. How are they similar? How are they different?
- Who are the heroes in this novel?
- What were your feelings toward Samuel Hawley?
- How does the grandmother feel about Samuel? Why do you think she does not confront him with her suspicions?
- Why does Principal Gunderson become Loo’s ally?
- How is the backdrop of the fishing town important to the story?
- What elements do each bullet story all have in common?