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Sam is a coming of age story about a young girl living a not so happy life. She discovers climbing and finally feels like she is a worthy person. Told from Sam’s point of view, the book starts off pretty choppy. It took me a bit to sort out the characters. But once she reached high school, I was invested in Sam and her parents. I think the main draw of this story is the realism. Every woman can remember going through the tough times- losing a best friend, having a crush on an older guy, realizing your parents aren’t invincible. It brought back memories of growing up but also made me sad that she has such a rough childhood.

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Title: Sam
Author: Allegra Goodman
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3.0

There is a girl, and her name is Sam. She adores her father, though he isn’t around much. Her mother, Courtney, struggles to make ends meet, and never fails to remind her daughter that her life should be different. Sam doesn’t fit in at school, where the other girls have the right shade of blue jeans and don’t question the rules. Sam doesn’t care about jeans or rules. She just loves to climb--trees, fences, walls, the side of a building. When she’s climbing, she discovers a place she belongs: she can turn off her brain, pain has a purpose, and it’s okay if you want to win.

As Sam grows into her teens, she grapples with self-doubt and insecurity. She yearns for her climbing coach to notice her, but his attention crosses boundaries she doesn't know how to resist. She wishes her father would leave for good, instead of always coming and going, but once he’s gone, she realizes how much she’s lost. She rages against her mother’s constant pressure to plan for a more secure future. Wrestling with who she wants to be in the face of what she’s expected to do, Sam comes to understand that she alone can make her dreams come true.

This book felt very pointless to me. What was the plot? I’m not sure. What about conflict? Um…Yeah, there wasn’t anything in particular, except for Sam’s self-destructive tendencies. Sam doesn’t just “grapple with self-doubt and insecurity” as the blurb says. She’s flat-out childish and selfish—and frequently astonished when things turn out badly. Maybe this just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m not sure why I even bothered finishing this.

Allegra Goodman lives in Massachusetts. Sam is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/The Dial Press in exchange for an honest review.)

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I received a complimentary copy of this YA novel from Netgalley, author Allegra Goodman, and publisher Random House Publishing - Dial Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read Sam of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I am pleased to add Allegra Goodman to my preferred author list and recommend her to friends and family. Her story is immersed in love and it's a joy, watching Sam grow.

Life isn't easy for Sam. The cards are certainly stacked against her. Our story opens when she is just 7 years old. She adores her father but he isn't dependable. Her hard-working twice-divorced mother does what she can to assist Sam in her schooling and physical fitness endeavors, but she is often tired from work and caring for Sam's toddler half-brother, and she dating again, rather unsuccessfully, so Sam is often left to handle her own needs and those of her brother. Most of her mother's dates are with men Sam doesn't like and can't trust. As she reaches high school, Sam doesn't feel comfortably able to fit in with her classmates and only feels confident while practicing and assisting with teaching youngsters to accomplish wall climbing at the gym, which is several hours from home by bus. But she will prevail. A strong young lady, equipped to conquer her world and make good choices as she matures. It is a pleasure to watch her grow.

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Life is complicated. Sometimes painful. Sometimes hopeful. Allegra Goodman captures life's complexities with all the emotions in the story of Sam and her struggle to find herself and her place in the world. At times heartbreaking, this compelling story captured the difficulties growing up in an imperfect family. Thanks #NetGalley #RandomHouse #DialPress

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3.5. I had a tough time getting into the writing style at the beginning of the book--lots of short, declarative sentences--but it suits seven-year-old Sam and will probably resonate with YA readers. The subtle shift in Allegra Goodman's prose reflects Sam's transition into her teen years well, but I still felt like I, as the reader, was being kept at arm's length from the plot and Sam's experience, though maybe that reflects Sam's coping mechanism. While I wasn't able to warm up to or fully appreciate Sam, I do think the reflections on domestic abuse and dysfunction are spot-on and poignant.

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Book Review: Sam by Allegra Goodman

Sam is a contemporary coming of age novel about a young girl growing up in Massachusetts.

When the book begins Sam is seven and living with her mother (Courtney), little brother (Noah) and Courtney’s off and on boyfriend (Jack). Sam sees her charismatic performer father (Mitchell) only occasionally and although she loves to climb things she doesn’t enjoy school. Courtney tries to build ambition into her daughter in hopes that she won’t drop out of college and juggle two jobs like she does. Sam finds that she enjoys rock and boulder climbing and as Michell pops in and out of her life it’s something she shares with him. We follow Sam for more than a decade as she struggles with successes in rock climbing, relationships, family and her future.

Despite the fact that this is mostly a character driven novel the pace and Sam herself keep the reader invested and looking forward to what will happen next. Sam is relatable to anyone that struggled with a parent that wanted more for them, a parent that was inconsistent in their lives or anyone that found it hard to fit in with their peers.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and character and I recommend Sam to readers that like coming of age novels with relatable young women finding their way through life.

4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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I am a sucker for a good coming-of-age story and this is one of the greats. The novel follows Sam from age 7 to 19 as she tries to her place in the world and within her family. Her mercurial dad and exhausted single mother are as much antagonists as they are foundational and the simple tenderness and brutal emotional honesty broke my heart in the most exquisite way. Only a few days into 2023 and we have our first contender for best of the year!

Read if you like: rocks, remembering adolescence through rose-colored glasses, Aftersun

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The short sparse sentences, the way the narration/voice/tone all mature alongside Sam, and the coming of age aspects of this book make it unique and singular. While it wasn't exactly the book for me- such spare writing isn't my style, I think this book will be a huge hit for good reasons. I have not read anything like this before.

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An insanely special and beautiful coming of age story. Thank you to Random House and the Dial Press for my ARC.

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Sam by Allegra Go9dman is a very relatable story. The analogy between rock climbing and the successes and failures in life is unique.

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Sam's passion for climbing began by chance at a carnival with her Dad. She's not good at school or fitting in, but she is good at climbing. There are complications of course--her father's addiction, her coach's inappropriate attention, her mother's struggle to make ends meet, relationships.

This was an engrossing coming-of-age story that rang true with all of life's gray areas, complicated emotions and hard choices.

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Thank you, NetGalley, for this ARC in exchange for review.

I have not read any of Allegra Goodman's books before. But if they are all like "Sam", then I want to read them all.

We meet Sam when she's in elementary school, climbing in the doorjam. Sam's story, written in third person, brings us into every thought and emotion dealing with her mom, her half-brother, and her dad who is sometimes around and sometimes not.

At first, I thought this story would be great for the middle school library. But as I got hooked, and Sam grew older, it is apparent is is very much a YA novel. The detail of Sam's thoughts bring readers so much into the story, we feel what Sam's feeling. The end of the book had me feeling a part of her. The detail of climbing as a sport was spot on. Who knew I'd be captivated by this sport I previously had no interest in?

But the best thing about this book are the characters. They are SO real. Each one. They are a the rest of us. But they get by with each other. Like the rest of us. I'll even go so far to say Sam helped me understand my own daughter a little more.

It is not a spoiler to say the metaphor of climbing is life. One of my favorite quotes, "The outside of the rock is smooth, the underside is tricky. You have to navigate that dark place and pull up from below". Reading that as an adult brings up all kinds of memories of my own life, and surely relates to Sam.

I don't give 5 stars often. But this is one of those books that became a part of me. Recommend for grades 9 and up.

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This coming of age story offers a unique voice that truly showcases what it is like to be a girl at certain key moments of her life. Sam struggles with fitting in. Climbing is her escape in life. Climbing offers her an escape and she feels fearless. This story embraces the true meaning of finding your own identity while balancing the struggles of what is expected of you. Goodman gets it right in writing this coming of age story.

Thank you #randomhouse and #netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I usually like Goodman’s novels, but this plot felt a little weak to me. This felt more like a book for a YA audience. I just didn’t grip me, and I really wish it had.

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A wonderful and touching story of a young woman, talented at climbing, but dealing with serious home-life issues. A brother with learning and behavioral differences, a mother without much education and not much money, and an alcoholic father make life more complicated for Sam. However, her story was beautiful and relatable, and I was engaged by the stunning writing despite the somewhat monotony of just a story of a life. The writing was wonderful, the plotline was interesting and engaging, and Sam was someone we all know, or possibly even someone we are in some ways. I would recommend this book for someone looking for a book that is interesting, but not frightening, something that is relatable, but not horribly depressing, and something that will give you hope.

This ebook was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a story about learning, and accepting, who you really are. We first meet Sam when she is seven years old. She is enthralled by her father — who is a magician, a musician, and a poet but not always the most reliable parent. She lives with her mother, Courtney, and her half-brother. Courtney must work all the time to support her family and is constantly reminding Sam that with an education, Sam can get a reliable job and achieve the steady and secure life that eluded Courtney.

But Sam is not keen on what it would take to follow that easy path — she is not interested in school or typical activities. Instead she is focused on climbing, which she has an almost preternatural talent for. But with a mother whose schedule makes it difficult to get to the gym to train, an unreliable father, and a climbing instructor whose attention is complicated, even what is supposed to be Sam’s refuge becomes more complex as she struggles with what it means to grow up and make her own way in the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I found myself fully immersed in Sam’s world. The author deftly captures what it feels like for a girl who, at the various stages of her life, feels like she does not fit in — with her peers, society’s expectations, and even her own family. Her relationship with her parents, and her evolving perspectives
on the respective challenges each faces, felt layered and highly realistic, as Sam rebelled against and gradually grew to accept their flaws. And I really appreciated how the book explores the found families that along the way play critical roles in Sam’s life, even as they, like her own family, also disappoint her. Within the context of this highly personal story, the author explores interesting and timely questions reality to class, wealth, addiction, and family.

Strongly recommended!

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Sam is the story of a girl growing up. On the surface it doesn't seem like a lot, but this book kept me interested as we watch Sam growing up into an adult with passions and dreams based off of her interests as a kid. It's a simple story, but one that slowly unfolds.
Sam loves spending time with her dad, but he's a struggling artist. Her mom's boyfriend and the father of her brother is no good for the family either and she has to watch him hurt her mom. She finds rock climbing. She struggles with being a preteen and her shifting relationships with her parents and her friends. She starts dating boys and figuring out what she wants to do with the rest of her life.
The book is a slow read, but one that is evenly paced. Sam is a believable character. I do wish that there was more discussion about the age gap relationship that she gets herself into and that there were consequences for the man that took advantage of her being a lovestruck kid. Even if Sam had just acknowledged that it was abusive I would've felt better, but there didn't seem to be any character development in that area (although I could be remembering it wrong). Overall though, I did enjoy this story and watching Sam grow up.

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Sam, Allegra Goodman (Publish Date: 1/3/23)

I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when I started to read Sam as I don't usually read books where children and/or young adults are the main protagonists, but the book turned out to be such a compelling read that I finished it in one sitting ignoring several household tasks in the process. As a reader you will spend the whole book cheering for Sam and hoping she will overcome the tremendous life obstacles that are thrown her way.

The book starts with 7 year old Sam who loves to climb, wants to be a rock climber, but is having trouble with school. Sam lives with her struggling Mother and has a mostly absent father who sometimes works as traveling magician, an abusive step-father and troubled younger brother. The book follows Sam's lives as she continues to young adulthood and attempts to follow her rock climbing dreams with dealing with the ongoing challenges of the mostly absent adults in her life as well as poverty. Sam is a must read coming of age novel for anyone that enjoys that genre!

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I loved this book because I loved how the style of writing evolved as Sam grew up. It's a story of coming of age, of feeling different and lonely. It's the story of a girl, Sam, and how she became a young woman.
Poignant, compelling, and well written. The author did an excellent job in developing intriguing and fleshed out characters and telling a story that never fail to keep the attention alive.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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Raised by a single mother, Sam finds release through climbing. But through climbing, she connects with her father, forms a friendship, deals with her father's disappearing, deals with her friend going to a different school, How Sam adapts to these different life events is the circuitous plot line of this novel.

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