Member Reviews

i really liked this book, but i also kept checking to see when it would be over. i feel like, maybe, it would have made a bigger impact on me when i was younger, reckoning with relationships - familial and romantic. i just felt a bit too old for it. but it was still pretty lovely.

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Despite the ominous cover, Sam is a delightful coming of age tale. Sam is the title character and the story follows her from 7 years old to early adulthood. Sam's relationships with her parents shape her ability to overcome the effects of poverty and addiction. Although she is burdened with too much responsibility at a young age, Sam perseveres through grief and disappointment. The cover gives the suggestion of Sam hiding in the shadows, the book is much more optimistic.

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Courtesy of Netgalley, I received the ARC of Sam by Allegra Goodman. This coming of age story follows Sam from the age of 7 through 19, as she evolves through challenges and expectations. Through the example and metaphor of rock climbing, Sam sets and rejects goals, faces disappointment, makes choices, develops motivation, and matures. I was cheering her on!

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LIKES:
📝 melancholy, pensive, visceral writing
🏃‍♀️ extremely character driven
🧗‍♀️ rock-climbing vibes
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 explores family dynamics
💰+ financial struggles
💊 + substance use disorder
🚺 + the female experience
🫀 + complex loves stories
🌱 coming-of-age
🪞 reflective
🥺 emotional & sad

DISCLAIMERS:
⚠️ dm me for TW
🦥 slow vibes

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Special thanks to Random House Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC of this book..

I wasn't feeling this book. There is nothing wrong with it, and I do like the author. I think she drew from her own life writing about Sam. It is definitely a coming-of-age story of a girl's childhood into teen years and how her parents splitting up affected her.

Sam doesn't conform to what girls are supposed to do as in studying and the right clothes to fit in, but she is like a monkey, loves to climb. It's like she literally can't sit still. Maybe she reminded me too much of my boyfriend's daughter who just wouldn't stop moving.

I think it broke my heart but left me feeling hopeless when I should of felt hopeful. Still, great writing. It just hit too close to home for me, as my stepdaughter has changed only for the worst. I couldn't relate in that way and found myself wishing my stepdaughter was more like Sam and I felt awful comparing them.
3 stars

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This is an excellent book.

It starts out with Sam being a seven year old child who doesn’t really care about a whole lot. She’s not worried about being popular or having the best clothes. She learns about climbing from her dad whom she adores even though he is absent much of the time. He has an addiction problem so that is the most important thing in his life right now.

This book is so well written. You feel this child’s life. How she grows and how the writing style changes as she grows. The loves she has and loses. The way her mother tries to run her life. Maybe for the best but it’s her life.

This is a much adored story. Getting to know Sam through all the ages of her life. From seven to nineteen she has a lot going on.

It’s really a great story.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts about this book.

Five stars and a high recommendation.

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3.8. I’m not a fan of coming off age stories. However, this one is better than most but for me, Catcher in the Rye is the penultimate coming of age novel. I do like Allegra Goodman and really liked Katterskill Falls. Her protagonist, Sam, is extremely well defined and we follow her from a young age of 7 to her early 20s. We watch her disappointment with her always disappearing father, her hardworking mother who constantly tells her to achieve and go to college, and her path to adulthood is not easy but marred by many obstacles.and challenges. Ms Goodman did a good job in developing her character as well as the others. In parts hard to stay engaged but a good novel with excellent dialogue.

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This was an interesting coming of age novel. The author gives Sam a variety of unsettling and difficult experiences as she navigates from childhood to young adulthood. I like that all the characters are flawed, fumbling through life as best they can. It gives the story an honest, raw feel.

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Excellent. Heart-breaking. Beautiful.
Goodman's accomplishment here is stunning - writing Sam starting at age 7, then slowly phasing to 19 years old.
A story of a little girl lost who finds her way.
Very highly recommend. Love it!

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I want to say that the book is probably very lovely and moving but I just could not finish reading it. The voice or style of writing whatever you want to consider it was just not for me. It was too choppy and I didn't feel like it flowed at all it kept me out of the story and in my own head. So to be fair I did not finish the book but I did not like the style.

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“Sam” is a solid book that follows a little girl as she transitions into a young woman. I thought I’d like this one more, but for some reason it felt choppy to me and I could not get a true connection to this story. Her home life is not easy-financial struggles and parents who are not together. It appears I’m in the minority regarding my lack of adoration when you look at the other reviews, but I found this one to be a little boring despite the writing itself being solid. 3 stars ⭐️ for this one. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for access to this for review.

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Allegra Goodman's "Sam" is a rare coming-of-age story in which you really feel the narrator grow up. At first, Sam's observations about her family and school are tinged with the innocence of a young child. You see her parents' fraught relationship, her mother's struggles with her boyfriend and her teachers' frustration with her through Sam's eyes. As she reaches her teens, Sam's view of the world evolves. What doesn't change? Her unreliable, alcoholic father continues to disappoint her. Her hardworking mother continues to butt heads with Sam about homework, boys and college. Throughout it all, Sam finds solace, challenge and occasional moments of peace while rock climbing. As I cried my way through the final pages of the novel, I wondered if Goodman would be able to deliver a satisfying ending for Sam's story. I needn't have worried; the book is excellent from start to finish.

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We first meet Sam at age 7, annoying her mother by scaling doorways and confused by why her dad isn't around. Throughout this coming-of-age tale, we see Sam grapple with the roles her parents play in her life, struggle through school, and discover herself through climbing. It's a quietly beautiful character study of a young woman set adrift but growing into her passions. I really appreciate the perspective and writing style that grows alongside Sam. If you love a contemplative, character-driven bildungsroman, it won't disappoint!

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Sam, by Allegra Goodman, is a realistic coming-of-age story of Sam, who we follow from age seven to nineteen. She is surrounded by adults, struggling with a multitude of issues ranging from addiction to financial stress. She also has a younger brother for whom she feels responsibility. The beauty of this book is Sam and her slowly growing understanding of the world around her. The adults and her contemporaries are seen through her eyes, her views changing as she matures. Sam is challenged by her circumstances and the shortcomings of the adults around her. Reading this book was often frustrating…I wanted Sam to make different choices, try harder, find an easier path. Of course, we can’t choose for other people, in real life or on the written page. This was not a “fun” read, but I think it resonates for all of us who sometimes wish we tried to understand our parents or allowed our children to just be who they wanted.

Thanks to NetGalley and Dial Press for the opportunity to read a digital ARC. This is a 3.5 star read that I am rounding up to 4 stars.

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Sam is seven when we meet her, her brother is two. They have different dads and one mom who feverishly works two jobs while raising two kids, trying to keep it all together. Sam finds it difficult, if not impossible, to make and keep friends but she finds a place that makes her feel whole in the climbing gym. Her mother Courtney is unrelenting in her persistence that Sam go to college, get a job and make good money. Her father Mitchell comes and goes and breaks Sam’s heart so many times that she becomes inured to him and his broken promises.

She’s takes accounting classes after she graduates from high school so she can get that job and make money but discovers there’s more to coursework when she stumbles into a class that is actually exciting. This is Bildungsroman at it best.

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A pitch-perfect coming-of-age story about a girl called Sam, whom we follow from age 7 to age 19 as she struggles with all the usual worries and anxieties of childhood and adolescence and then some. She lives with her single mother and younger half-brother Noah. Her mother works hard to provide for her children but life is tough. Sam’s father, it becomes clear, struggles with addiction and lets Sam down badly. Her one escape is to climb although even this doesn’t come problem-free. But she’s a survivor and we root for her. Her internal conflicts are all too comprehensible being torn as she is between what she wants to do – to climb, to study – and what her mother wants for her – to learn a skill that will enable her to escape the poverty trap. In spare prose, and with convincing dialogue, the reader enters into Sam’s world as she grows and develops and we hold our breath as her poignant and compelling story unfolds. An excellent read.

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This is the coming of age novel of 7 year old Sam up through her college years. I thought it was well done and liked the well developed relationships with her parents. You feel for Sam and I kept imagining that her life could go in a few different directions. I had to keep reading to find out which path she would go on.
Pick this up if coming of age stories win you over.

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Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House Dial Press for gifting me a digital ARC of the latest novel by Allegra Goodman - 4.5 stars!

When we meet Sam, she is 7 years old, living with mom, Courtney, and younger stepbrother, Noah. Courtney works two jobs to make ends meet and Sam's dad, whom she adores, is gone more than he is around. She doesn't fit in at school and struggles to find her place until her dad introduces her to climbing. She struggles to get the attention of her coach but then his attention becomes an issue. As Sam grows up, we watch her deal with life, people's expectations of her, her own dreams, and love.

I thought this was a wonderful coming-of-age story. It starts out with simple language that becomes more complex as Sam matures. Sam tries to do what's expected of her, but struggles with her own dreams. I loved the character of Ann, an elderly woman who subtly encourages Sam to follow her heart. This book will touch your heart - while it's filled with struggles and issues of addiction, poverty, classism, abuse, it's also full of encouragement, hopes and dreams. I also think it's a great shout out to what the right words from a teacher can do to a student.

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Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House, The Dial Press for accepting my request to read and review Sam.

Author: Allegra Goodman
Published: 01/03/23
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Literary Fiction | Women's Fiction

Sam was a tough read. The first third of the book I was subconsciously waiting for the typical storyline, it didn't come. By the half way point, I felt myself emotionally invested without knowing why. The truth is Sam could be so many of us. Sam's mother was her house parental, and her dad was the drifter (I'm being kind.). Sam has a younger sibling with a different dad. How do you choose to leave one child at home because they aren't yours? How do you have the nerve to state, you won't be alone your sister (Sam) is home -- not recognizing her unless convenient for you.

Sam has a multitude of problems during her building years (teens). The story is real and too common in our society. How do you ask your daughter (Sam) about going to prom and not recognize she doesn't have friends?

There is a lot of pain in Sam, the book.

This was the diamond, for lack of a better word. When reading book after book pleading for someone to write realistically, this is that book hard as it is to read. It will stay with me for many many years. Dark Horses by Susan Milhalic was the last book that touched me this deeply.

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DNF @ 50% - this was not what I expected... thought it was a thriller/suspense, but it was very much a coming of age, character story. if that interests you, then you may like this!

Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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