From the publisher:
Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s coming-of-age story is, according to Booklist, “a novel that, if it doesn’t cross entirely over into John Irving territory, certainly nestles in close to the border.”
Sam Hill always saw the world through different eyes. Born with red pupils, he was called “Devil Boy” or Sam “Hell” by his classmates; “God’s will” is what his mother called his ocular albinism. Her words were of little comfort, but Sam persevered, buoyed by his mother’s devout faith, his father’s practical wisdom, and his two other misfit friends.
Sam believed it was God who sent Ernie Cantwell, the only African American kid in his class, to be the friend he so desperately needed. And that it was God’s idea for Mickie Kennedy to storm into Our Lady of Mercy like a tornado, uprooting every rule Sam had been taught about boys and girls.
Forty years later, Sam, a small-town eye doctor, is no longer certain anything was by design—especially not the tragedy that caused him to turn his back on his friends, his hometown, and the life he’d always known. Running from the pain, eyes closed, served little purpose. Now, as he looks back on his life, Sam embarks on a journey that will take him halfway around the world. This time, his eyes are wide open—bringing into clear view what changed him, defined him, and made him so afraid, until he can finally see what truly matters.
I LOVED THIS BOOK!
Sorry for shouting but it really needed to be said. Loudly. Not sure why or how Dugoni, a fabulous crime fiction writer, decided to do a book like this but I wish he would do another. This book was on par with John Irving and Richard Russo at their best (and I miss their best.)
I’m really sorry I missed this book when it was first published in 2018. Not sure how that happened exactly; I generally read Dugoni and if I would have seen or heard he had a new book, I would have grabbed it. I’m just very happy I found it now. In fact, I wrote and asked for permission to quote a few lines – my son is getting married soon and I wanted to include a bit from this book in my speech.
The story is written in two timelines. This is a coming of age book, with occasional whispers from adult Sam that I found very reassuring. To be honest, there were a few instances where I was tempted to skip ahead a bit. I have difficulties reading about a child being bullied to the extent Sam was, but because I knew he was going to survive it and become a successful adult, I was able to push through it.
This is a story about faith and religion and how sometimes there is disparity between the two. This is also a story about families and friendship and love. My mother always told me we are lucky if we make one or two good friends in our lives. She was right, and that is beautifully illustrated here.
This is an easy read, albeit an emotional one. I loved the characters and how carefully they were crafted and I know I will not forget Sam Hell. The writing is beautiful and Dugoni takes us on a journey, in every sense of the word.
Here are a few quotes that I really liked:
“Life is either a collision of random events, like billiard balls during a break careening off and into one another, or if you are so inclined to believe, our predetermined fate—what my mother took such great comfort in calling God’s will. I desperately wanted to believe my mother was right.”
“There comes a day in every man’s life when he stops looking forward and starts looking back.”
“The first recollection started as a trickle that, as soon as I attempted to block it, found another path to weep through, the way water will always bleed through concrete, no matter how many times you patch it.”
“Time is wicked. It comes and goes like a thief in the night, stealing our youth, our beauty, and our bodies.”
This is one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time. Highly recommended and will be on my best books of the year list.
6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL by Robert Dugoni. Lake Union Publishing (April 24, 2018). ISBN 978-1503948976. 447p.
This entry was posted on Monday, June 3rd, 2019 at 8:14 AM and is filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Women's Fiction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.