The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 May 2018

Member Reviews

Definitely in my top 10 books of the year so far!!  I can't say enough good things about it.  This is by far Robert's best book and I'm saying that based on the fact that I have LOVED all his other books!!
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Sam Hill was born in 1957 with ocular albinism that gave him red pupils. He endured bullying and isolation at school before forging two friendships that lasted a lifetime.  This is one of those books that pulls at your heartstrings.  I highly recommend it!
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This is my first by this author and he did not disappoint! I have already ordered a few of his other books. Really good story that kept me wanting to finish in one sitting
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A well-crafted story with a heartwarming message, this book was a surprise departure from author Dugoni's previous titles. The straightforward story drew the reader in. Well done!
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At times you walk away from a book with feelings and emotions and then an hour, a day, a week later, you have forgotten all that you have read. However, there are some book that when you finish them, you know in your heart that they will never leave you. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell was just so a book.

This book transported this reader into a world where one can find that which seems to be escaping from our world today, that of human kindness, forgiveness, and love. I can not recommend this book more highly as it brings one a world of peacefulness, tears, love, and the telling of a story that moves one's heart and soul.
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Robert Dugoni is one of my favorite mystery/suspense authors and this was a totally unexpected pleasant surprise.  It's a coming of age story that is so endearing and with so many life lessons sprinkled throughout the novel that it will make you just sit there and ponder on what is being said. It shows how differences can make us stronger and more compassionate. The characters pull you into the story and have such an impact as if they were part of your life. I really liked how he went back and forth from childhood to present day. I just didn't want it to end and I hope that Mr. Dugoni will continue writing stories like these.  This book was as extraordinary as his character Sam Hell!!
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Sam Hill always saw the world through different eyes. Born with red pupils, he was called “Devil Boy” 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.

* * * * *

Let me start of by say that I absolutely loved this book which was rather surprising since faith and the Catholic Church beliefs and traditions pop up frequently.   I actually had trouble reading the last few pages because of the tears in my eyes.  I didn't want to say good by to Sam and his friends.

I picked up this book because of the author.  Robert Dugoni is the author of one of my favorite police procedural series so I knew that I enjoy his writing style.  I really think that he outdid himself with THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL.  

Sam, his thoughts and his life were so beautifully portrayed that I felt that I was there.  That I knew him as well as I know myself.  That I was with him from the time that he was a child until the time he truly became an adult.  Through him, I got to experience going to a Catholic school, I was able to experience being bullied because he was different, growing up with two parents who loved him and each other, of losing and regaining my faith in a higher power.  

As you can probably tell, I do recommend this book to any of my readers.  I am still puzzling over what genre to slip this book into but it's tough.  The close as I can come is a coming of age story even though follows him from birth until his late thirties.  There is some violence and there is some sex but doesn't everyone have a bit of both in their lives?

***I received  this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own and not influenced by the publisher or author.
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This book read like a field trip through the realms of Catholic guilt. Comprising intolerance, adolescence and the search for faith, it was definitely an interesting read- if one that felt a little heavy-handed at times.

The story is that of Sam Hill (or Hell, as he’s quickly nicknamed): a boy born with a genetic mutation, ocular albinism, that has made his eyes turn red. (Cue much Googling of said red eyes.) With his religious mother determined that his eyes mark him out for greatness, Sam nevertheless endures bullying all through his childhood- and when, forty years later, that same bully comes back into his circle, he must decide how to act, and what the right thing to do is.

It sounds quite heavy, and at times it is- but I did enjoy it. Dugoni gives Sam a strong, likeable and slightly wry voice from the start that spans two different plot threads: that of his life as an adult doctor, and that recounting his childhood growing up in suburban America in a way that reads a little like John Irvine. This thorough exploration and exhumation of his demons comes to the forefront as we’re taken for a ride through Sam’s past, getting to know his family and friends along the way.

There isn’t an awful lot of plot here, but there doesn’t need to be: Dugoni’s focus is all on the characters, watching how they interact and develop, perhaps a bit like real life. It also offers a great way to explore themes like religion and intolerance in small-town America. It pays off, too, because you really invest in those characters- from Sam’s strong-willed, and stubborn, mother, whose love is tempered by some truly hilarious moments that had me sniggering at the page, to the growing romance between Sam and his childhood friend Mickie, which neither of them wants to address but which will give you a serious case of will-they-won’t-they syndrome.

Most of all, though, this is a book about faith, and Dugoni paints a wonderfully nuanced portrait of what it means to believe in today’s world- as nuanced as a stained-glass window. Sam’s attempts to reconcile the events in his life with ‘God’s will’, compared with his mother’s steadfast faith, leads to some quietly beautiful moments, and though some had me cringing slightly, the religious-redemptive arc is beautifully handled and feels natural and unforced.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It has the small-town feel of many great American authors, with it’s own unique slant that will definitely get you thinking. Also, Sam Hill and his family are quite possibly the sweetest and most endearing family: you’ll fall in love with them!
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Robert Dugoni proves once again that he's a fantastic storyteller. He makes it impossible not to love the characters in this moving tale. I enjoyed the way he moved from past to present so that we as readers could see the impact of love and friendship. This was a easy story to connect with, and it definitely made a lasting impression.
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Robert Dugoni found a way to enter my heart. Sam Hill was a relatable little boy, other than the fact that he had ocular albanism which made his eyes red. I appreciated his story and his friendships. The book immediately pulled me in, but parts of it was challenging to follow or understand how it connected back to the main story. By the end of the novel, your heart breaks for Sam Hill and you see how the pieces of his life come together. "We don't always know God's will."
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Thank you NetGalley for an ARC. I love coming of age stories, especially ones that follow the main character through adulthood. This was another could not put down book for me. I loved the characters, the family and friendships. The bullying was hard to take but luckily only two really difficult scenes. Otherwise this was a gem.
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Thank you for giving me the opertunity to read and review this book prior to its publication date. Do events in my personal life, unfortunately I was not able to read this book prior to the Publication date. When I initially asked to read the book I found the premise to be interesting. I am looking forward to the release of other titles in your upcoming publican catalog. I would love to have the oppertunity again to read future publication titles. Thank you for your generosity and the time you spent reviewing my request to read this book. 

I am required to give a star rating on netgally but will not be posting a review or giving a star rating for a book I have not read in its entirety on other patforms.
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Thanks to Netgalley, Union Lake publishing and Robert Dugoni for this ARC. I’ve read the Tracey Crosswhite series, my first introduction to Robert Dugoni. Since then I’ve read a few stand alone. None have touched me this deeply as The extraordinary Life of Sam Hell. It had me laughing in the beginning and crying in the end. The characters were so wonderful and so well written. As I read through every chapter I got more involved in the characters lives, trials, and tribulations.  Such a  wonderful book, but even better, a really wonderful story. I loved it ❤️
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Robert Dugoni has created a wonderful character in Sam Hell, also known as Devil Boy.   Sam was born with red pigmented eyes, and the reactions to this are broad and worlds apart.  Sam’s mother, a devout Catholic, believes his eyes are a sign from God that her son is destined to be an extraordinary person, and to lead an extraordinary life.  But other children in his parochial school, and even the stern nun who is  principal of the school, see his eyes as a sign of the devil, or at least as something to mean Sam is to be avoided and rejected.   The school bully deems Sam Devil Boy, and undertakes a vendetta of physical and emotional aggression against Sam.   
But Sam’s resilience is buoyed by two major things, his parents and his friends,  throughout his young life.  His parents’ support, with his mom’s  unwavering faith in both God’s purpose for her son, and his own innate abilities, and his father’s quiet wisdom and guidance keeps Sam continuing to forge ahead, even as his nemesis continues to taunt and bully.   And Sam gains two loyal and lifelong friends;  Ernie is the only black child in their parochial school, and as outsiders, he and Sam become quick friends, and consequently their parents also become close friends as well.  And then there is Micky, an outspoken and independent girl who becomes the other close friend who sticks by Sam, and speaks loudly on his behalf against any other forces.  
This is written in the first person, as Sam, now in his 40’s, looks back and tells the story of his life to this point.  And even as an adult, Sam continues to struggle with many of the same issues, and even some of the same bullies, but also to have those who have championed him continue on by his side.  A story of love, faith, loyalty, and perseverance, this one will stay with me for a long time.
My thanks to NetGalley, Robert Dugoni, and Lake Union Publishing for the copy of this book with which I was provided.
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WOW! Another excellent read by Robert Dugoni.  Found it hard to put down.  It alternately brought on tears of joy and sadness.  He never disappoints.
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I absolutely loved this book!  Richly told and extremely poignant.  This powerful story will warm your heart  Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Excellent read written in memoir style of a shy, self-conscious young boy (Sam Hell) with red eyes who is made fun of, ostracized and bullied as he grows up from a Catholic grade school to adulthood. As someone who attended parochial grade schools run by nuns, I could identify with many of the situations reported during that portion of the book. I don't think the final few pages lived up to the high standards of the rest of the book but have not reduced my rating as a result because on the whole I found this book creative, involving, worthwhile and enjoyable.
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We realize it is in those quiet moments that each of us has the ability to make our life extraordinary.’

This is a story about love. It is about how a life well lived, with love, is an extraordinary thing in and of itself. It is a story of a boy becoming a man, about self regard, about friendship. The closing chapters brought a tear of two to my eye. I found this an inspiring read, with many lessons that I could learn from myself. Recommended.
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This book really made me cry. It was so real and so honest and I enjoyed reading it quite a lot. I really could relate to Sam when he spoke about being bullied in school and in a roundabout way, it made me realize how important it is to overcome your fears. At some points it did seem like the only purpose of the book was to try and make the reader cry, but overall it was a beautiful experience.
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I loved this extraordinary book...so different from much of what I read. As someone bullied in school, I really identified with Sam Hill...the nicknames, the one friend. And to see how he struggled then grew then helped was a full circle delight. I'm going to go back and look for this author's thrillers.
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