Member Reviews

This is the story of a life - or at least the childhood, told in great detail - of Sam, from age 7 to age 19. I loved this book - the author gave so much detail, all told from Sam's point-of-view, though we still get to know the key people in her life: her mom, her half-brother, her dad who is in and out of her life, her boyfriend, and others. Sam loves climbing walls and rocks and this is important because it connects her to her dad who introduced her to climbing and because it leads to her future, of which we only get a glimpse (wishing for more chapters in Sam's life!). So grateful to have read this book which will stay with me for a long time and I will definitely dig into the author's backlist (how is that I have never read her books before?)

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Allegra Goodman takes this plot in a different direction for the new novel, Sam. This novel is about family similar to her previous work, but this time the topic of religion does not play a major role.

This is the coming of age story of Sam, a girl living in a very dysfunctional family situation and how she finds herself and makes a success of her life. We meet Sam when she is seven, living with her mother, Courtney, a hairdresser and her half brother, Noah who is two. They are living in Beverly, MA in a small cottage on the property of Noah.s father's parents. When the relationship between Courtney and Jack, Noah's volatile father goes wrong, Courtney moves the children out to an apartment in town. She takes on a second job and tries hard to impress on Sam how important success in school is for her future.

Sam's father, Mitchell, is a dreamer, making his living as a magician, juggler and poet. He is in and out of Sam's life over the years, never able to really settle down and be successful. He introduces Sam to wall climbing and that becomes her saving experience. She becomes involved in rock climbing both in the indoor gym and out in the boulder filled public park, Red Rocks, in Gloucester. The rock climbing is a beautiful way to watch Sam grow from a child lost between the cracks to a young woman who can look at the rock formation and figure out the way to use each stepping stone on her way to the top.

Though she falls off the wall aa few times in the end she finds the footholds that take her to the pinnacle.

We watch her struggle through the relationship with her mother, her father and learning about love. her relationship with a brother who has behavior and learning issues. We are routing for Sam all the way through the book.

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Scary and riveting! Recommended for anyone wanting a thrill. Deeply unsettling and moody, this one kept me up late.

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Sam by Allegra Goodman is an engrossing, enjoyable coming-of-age novel. A reminder that the journey, the trying, and struggling are the best parts of any accomplishment. Thank you to The Dial Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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A well-written coming-of-age story that wasn't targeted as a young adult novel. However, in my opinion, it should have been.

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Thank you to the publisher for allowing me advance access to this title. I really enjoyed reading this story and look forward to reading more from this author. As a reader, I am really motivated by character driven stories and I found myself quickly becoming immersed in these characters’ lives. Full review to come.

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I accepted this ARC from Netgalley and then life happened and I didn't get to it until well after its publication date. It is a story of one girl growing up. Sam lives with her mother and brother. Her dad is in and out of her life. Her dad does introduce her to the biggest thing to hold her interest - climbing.

This story just follows Sam as she goes from a little kid to a college student. We witness her internal struggles to become her own person. She is enmeshed with her mom and brother. She has very few friends. She gets into inappropriate relationships. Through it all she tries to figure out who she really is and what she wants out of life.

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This is Sam’s story. Her life with her little brother. Her life with her mother. Her relationship with her father. Her journey through her life. Experiences with climbing. Her friendships. I found this to be beautifully written. I could imagine Sam’s feelings along the way as she experienced and overcame each new phase of her life.

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The beginning was a hook, simplistic, and I was drawn into the story. It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off. This was an uncomfortable book - cringeworthy at times. A mother, who despite wanting better for her daughter, never stops harping or pressing - it gets old quickly. A father who just can’t get his act together and not only disappoints his daughter, but is reckless with her physical and mental stability. Teaching her that she is going to fall, nine times out of ten she is going to fall and this is told to her so she establishes the “mindset”. Maybe good, probably not.

If you are interested in a coming of age story about a girl who takes up climbing, where it becomes her anything and everything, to the exclusion of most other things, this book might be perfect for you. Parts of it were interesting, parts tedious, some noxious and not well thought out, some just thrown in to see if it would stick. A girl who progresses to all “mixed up and calm and bad” and is going to experience a load of hurt. Just not that interesting to me.
Unfortunately I was done with this book long before it was finished.

Thanks to The Dial Press and NetGalley for a copy.

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I was lucky to receive an advance copy of Sam by Allegra Goodman from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review and opinions. Loved this book - made me laugh and cry as we follow Sam from childhood to adulthood. A very compelling read that will hold your attention until the very last word.

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Sam by Allegra Goodman.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for letting me read a digital ARC of this book.
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Sam is a straightforward coming-of-age narrative that follows the titular character from age 7 to about age 19 as she grows up in Massachusetts. Sam's mother Courtney is a single mother of two focused on trying to better the family's circumstances. Sam's father comes and goes - we can tell that he loves Sam deeply, but has little capacity for parenthood. He notices Sam's penchant for climbing, and introduces her to rock climbing.
The novel is written predominantly in short choppy sentences and the narrative is linear and straightforward, but I found this one so compulsively readable. There is a tender heart at the centre of Sam's story that makes the book hard to put down.
In a letter to the reader, Allegra Goodman writes that in writing the novel she was thinking about children's eagerness and energy and that she wanted to write about "what happens to that eagerness—particularly in girls. What happens to the girl who wants to climb?"
She goes on to say that "When viewing time-lapse photography, you can quickly watch seasons change and snow melting and flowers bloom. On one level, my novel is a time-lapse of Sam’s life—but because I am not a photographer or filmmaker, I show her growth in words. I do this by shifting diction and syntax so that the voice of the book matures with Sam. The novel moves fast, but the effect is subtle. The narrative carries you along so that you can’t quite pinpoint when the little girl becomes a woman, when hope shades into sadness, and discouragement becomes determination. Like a sunrise, the change in a person is spectacular, but while it happens, nearly imperceptible."
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#allegragoodman #bookpost #booksofinstagram #bookstagram #recommendedread #netgalley #2023reading

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I did not end up reading this novel. The rating is not a reflection of the story itself, but rather an indication that other books/stories dominated my interest and reading time. Which I think is an important factor when selecting your next read.

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Sam by Allegra Goodman was a quiet but moving coming of age story. Every book by Goodman has been starkly different which I whole heartedly appreciate.

At the start of the book, Sam is all light and sunshine, but as her single mom struggles with multiple jobs and her half-brother’s behavioral issues increase, Sam becomes stunted at home.

Her release come in the form of climbing. She is strong and wants to the be the best. Climbing becomes her safe space.

The friends she meets through climbing teach her much about life. For example, she had never seen parents that live together, let alone talk and laugh. Through these friends she realizes more of what she wants, and to do what makes her happy, rather than her please her mother. This book delves into divorce, risk, grief, coming of age, romance, and education.

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I love a good coming of age story and this one reached my expectations. As a 7 year old, Sam loves her parents and tries her hardest to make them proud. As her father gets more erratic in his behavior the more Sam turns to her one outlet: climbing. Sam loves to climb and will do it anytime she gets a chance. After her climbing coach begins to show extra interest in her, Sam is forced to grow up. Great read!

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This book was powerful, but a very slow build. It is told through the eyes of Sam, ages from 7 to 19, so the viewpoint is changing as she matures. Sam goes through so much in her young years, including her mother’s poor choice in her second husband, her own father’s alcoholism and frequent disappearance from her life, the necessity of helping to care for her younger half brother, and little money. Her mother wants more for Sam than she has, and constantly reminds her that an education is how she can have security and success in her life. Sam is indifferent toward school, but her father takes her to a rock wall on one of his appearances, and this becomes her passion and her escape. As Sam grows into a young woman, life gets increasingly messy, which I won’t detail. It was hard to watch her struggles. She finds friends who help her and some who take advantage of her before she finds her own way. I liked the direction at the end, and I’m glad we were left with hope for Sam.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House/Dial Press for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

The book is told from the perspective of Sam, a girl whom we follow from the time she is 7 until she is 19. Her mother, Courtney, is holding down two jobs and trying to make ends meet. Her father is in and out of the picture. Sam faces many challenges as she grows up -- a broken home, not fitting in at school, and not fulfilling her mother's expectations.

When Sam discovers rock climbing, her world changes. She finally has something she enjoys and a group of people with whom she connects. As her rock climbing improves and she succeeds in more difficult challenges, her confidence in her abilities to face the future grows.

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Sam by Allegra Goodman is a coming of age story for a teenager and her largely dysfunctional family. The family is poor and Sam is struggling to find her place in this world. Sam begins to rock climb which helps her find some happiness among her peers. Although this is an enjoyable novel at times I felt that there was a bit too much detail on the rock climbing aspect of Sam’s life. The complex relationships in Sam’s life make this a worthwhile read. Growing up can be a difficult and anxiety provoking time in one’s life as this novel depicts in vivid detail.

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So, who is Sam? Sam is a young girl, a child of separated parents, who lives with her mother and younger brother. As her mother struggles to support her family, her father, a magician, comes and goes. Sam loves to climb and takes lessons at the local Y. This is a coming of age novel. We watch as Sam overcomes her issues and finds herself. This novel was on all the “watch lists” for this winter. However as I listened to Goodman being interviewed, I thought that it may not be for me. I was wrong.

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It was an ok read but I struggled with this one. The story didn't flow for me. It reads short and choppy. I couldn't seem to connect with the characters. The glossing over the fact that Sam gets in a relationship that essentially is statutory rape and it is not really addressed as such bothers me. The story was depressing for me. A hard coming of age story that left me sad.

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Another book that blew me away. Something about Sam has buried itself in me and I can’t stop thinking about it. It begins when Sam is seven and ends when she’s 19, and I loved how the writing style grew and matured with her. We follow her as she deals with parents who are no longer together, a father who is trying his best but often fails, a mother trying to support two kids on her own, and all of the growing pains that come with getting older and trying to figure out who you are. So many parts of this book absolutely broke my heart, and the characters and settings were so vivid that I often felt like I WAS Sam. Pick this up if you like coming of age stories, slow burn character-driven books, and if you want to be put in someone else’s shoes.

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