I think this novel is quite strong. It’s about a young girl and her dad returning to her mother’s hometown, long after her death. It involves a seemingly rapacious grandmother, odd events, small town quirks, and lots of gun violence.
Yeah, oddly it does have that last one.
The novel itself is broken into several present-time/progressive-time chapters about the girl, Loo, and her father, the titular Samuel Hawley growing accustomed to a stationary life after years of travelling. In addition, there’s the background story being told through the story of the twelve times Samuel Hawley has been shot.
In addition, the novel involves some loose affiliation with Greek/Roman myths though naming (Olympus, Massachusetts, a man named Jove) and through the use of the zodiac, and various motifs of “12s” coming up throughout.
I am not sure I see why or understand why the mythic elements are there, but what I do see, is how the story previous to Loo’s current life does come across in maybe not mythic ways, but in storyteller-y ways. Throughout the novel, she lives in her mother’s shadow, and so the background stories do fill in a lot of those gaps. I am not sure it fully works as the present time is way more interesting than the past time.
It gets its fourth star from me for hitting the right tone throughout. It feels a little like “Big Fish”, a little like “The Shipping News, a little like “Spartina,” and a little like “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” without stealing from them.