Cover Image: Sam


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Member Reviews

An interesting portrayal of growing up that gives a new voice to the coming-of-age genre. This book follows Sam from the age of seven to nineteen and she tries to figure out who she is with the external conflicts happening around her. She has to deal with her mother’s smothering love and her father’s absence. Her family struggles to makes ends meet, which in turn makes Sam feel responsible in a sense. She doesn’t fit in at school and feels her life has no meaning beyond being a daughter and sister.

Sam focuses on the insecurities we create in our heads about ourselves as children to young adulthood. We are constantly second-guessing ourselves, doubting our abilities, and finding flaws that others cannot see-but are glaringly obvious to us. this was such a realistic story about growing up and having to deal with the life you were born into, no matter what.

I thought the beginning was pretty slow as we’re in the mind of seven year old Sam, it being very straight forward with not much substance. however, watching Sam grow through adolescence and her high school years was such an engrossing part of the book. It’s hard not to see yourself in the main character, voicing all the insecurities and troubles we all had growing up.

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A beautifully written coming of age story which captivates the reader from beginning to end. It depicts, so clearly, the protagonist’s struggle to balance her responsibilities with her desires. All of the characters are wonderfully crafted, each one unique and memorable. The relationships between the characters are genuine and evocative, often pulling at the reader’s heart strings.
Highly recommended. Thanks to Allegra Goodman, Random House and NetGalley for the ARC.

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I love family dramas and coming-of-age stories, but this one was too slow for me. Sam grows up with a single mom and an addict dad who she can’t count on. It was very realistic and sad. It was not an enjoyable read and I wanted more depth from the charecters.

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An endearing coming of age story of Sam who struggles to overcome many obstacles in her young life to become the woman she can be.

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Sam is a coming of age story. It’s about Sam as she grows throughout her life. She lives with her mom and half-brother. Sam’s story is intriguing because not only is her dad more absent than he was present, he also struggles with addiction.
To begin with, the writing is hard to read in how it is so overly simplistic and stating facts. However, it does mature with the character so it appears to be a stylistic choice. Not my favorite, but still. Sam’s story is one that can weigh on a lot of people and I can definitely see an audience loving it, even if it’s not necessarily me. It’s essentially a deep character study, which is well written and something a lot of people could really like/enjoy. This just came down to personal preference for me, honestly. It’s just not my favorite type of story.

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While a deep and interesting character study that follows a girl from childhood to adulthood, there was just something about this novel that failed to keep me captivated the entire way through while reading it. The writing style just simply wasn’t for me, and I think that had a lot to do with my distaste for this story.

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This certainly was a powerful and intense coming-of-age novel. It's a story of a girl who finds life a challenge and seeks to find an answer to life and those challenges through rock climbing.
The plot is one that has been done many times before. Even though I was intrigued by that plot and the characters, the prose didn't quite live up to my expectations.

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3.5 stars / This review will be posted on today.

We meet Sam when she is 7 years old. She lives with her mom, Courtney, and her half brother, Noah. Her dad, Mitchell, lives nearby, but he’s often on the road performing. To escape Noah, Sam learns to climb doorways. When her dad sees this, he decides that Sam needs to learn how to climb rocks.

Over the years Sam’s dad comes and goes. Sam continues to learn to climb, progressing to club teams. She has a gift and a passion for climbing, but sometimes her head gets in the way. She often thinks of her dad. It’s not an easy life for Sam. Her mom works two jobs to keep them housed and fed. Various men come and go from Courtney’s life. Noah develops personality issues.

But the climbing carries her through it all. It is her rock. What centers her. What makes Sam, Sam.

I enjoyed this tale. Sam is a complicated girl with complications in her life. She’s seeking something that might be unattainable - her dad’s attention. Courtney does everything she can to keep her family together. Noah can be a handful, but he’s also Sam’s biggest cheerleader. Mostly this is a book about a young girl becoming an adult and the challenges she will face along the way.

It’s not earth shattering. It’s not an “I have to get to the next chapter” kind of book. It’s a slow unfolding of what one person experiences through her young life. It’s a well written character study. Enjoyable.

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this was an intense coming of age book.
It was not my favorite read but i did like it.
It ends full circle and I did like the writing style.

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The coming-of-age story of a young girl who finds her strength and talent in rock climbing. She faces disappointment and sometimes anger in a father who makes many promises, but doesn't keep them. A good story that keeps the reader engaged.

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The premise to this coming-of-age novel sounded promising, but the prose was a bit too choppy and the main character wasn't compelling enough to keep the story moving forward.

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What a pleasure to have the chance to read this very interesting book from Allegra Goodman. I'm giving it five stars because it was a creative way of writing the main character's story from when she was a little girl until adulthood. Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to review this advanced copy. I'll be sharing on Goodreads. 4 stars!

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This novel chronicles the painful growing up years of a girl whose parents are divorced. There are many struggles and moments of connection. I thought the writing was more geared toward a YA audience and wished for more insight and depth in the story. But I think there are readers who will enjoy this quiet story.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This is just the story of a girl growing up and daring to become who she really is. What really made me enjoy this book, I think, is the richness of its characters, those you know well, like Courtney, Sam's single mother, determined to do the best she can for her kids with very little money, to characters you see less of, like Professor Witchy, one of Sam's teachers, kind of a Dolly Partonesque figure who just happens to be in love with accounting. This should appeal to readers who enjoy Maggie Shupstead or Asali Solomon.

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Things that are a thumbs up for this book:
1. I love a good coming of age story and we see Sam grow through time.
2. I thought the pacing was good - fit the development of the character (Sam)
3. I liked the development of the side characters in the book - they had good stories!

Things that are a thumbs down for me with this book:
1. I struggled with the short choppy writing style.
2. I thought the plot could have been stronger.
3. The ending seemed contrived.

I am a fan of Allegra Goodman and will continue to be excited for anything new that she writes!!

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group, The Dial Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on January 3rd, 2023

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Selling Pitch:
This book is yet another love letter to angry sad girls, and if that’s your genre, then you need to read this. No plot, just heartbreaking character development. Bonus points if you’re a Massachusetts girlie.

I’m a narcissist. This was inevitable. Slap my name in hot pink over Walmart Bella Hadid and I'm in.

Thick of it:
The author’s note is lovely. Also New England superiority. Massachusetts superiority at that.

The Topsfield fair!

Oh my god, I’m gonna cry.

This is how you write a young character without making the book insufferable.

The poem/lyrical text…Oh my god, this book it’s gonna make me sob.

This book is so good.

I love a little Scorpio. Also hello I’m a horrible person, but every Scorpio is a biter. 😂

This book is so good.

Whoops, crying. Can’t read a book with my name k thanks bye.

The narrative voice changing so subtly as she ages is so gorgeous.

I hate money.

Shut up, Cherry Hill is my favorite ice cream in New England.

Wordly wise just unlocked a memory, holy shit.

Sam, please. You’re. God, physically painful. A pointed detail. I get it. But ugh, pet peeve.

I feel like many angry sad girls will see themselves in this book.

It won’t be. Group projects are horrible.

BRB ugly crying.

I hate this man.

Little side of religious trauma.

Courtney is doing her best. 💜

I would pinpoint it here. (From the author’s note.)

College students should not touch 15 year olds. Fuck this guy.

Fuck. This. Guy.

Get him, Courtney.

Horse girls and daddy issues. Tale old as time.

Fuck the umbrella call back. BRB absolutely sobbing.

Sam’s a good sister.

Don’t make me like a fedora man. (Fuck me, but she did.)

What a love letter to your daughter, but also it’s weird to then put a sex scene haha.

I love Ann. If (when) she dies I’m gonna be pissed. (Never been so happy to be wrong.)

I cannot read this book at work. Holy fuck, I’m on the edge of tears constantly. This. Book. Is. So. Good.

I love Ann.

The callbacks in this book. 11/10

Why do all the best books have such shitty endings? (They’re not actually that bad. I just don’t want them to end.)

Going back through my quote pulls and the Black Beauty one gutted me considering what happens, holy fuck.

Fuck everyone, absolutely everyone not giving this book 5 stars. If I hadn’t read Corinne this year, this would be my new favorite book and my best book of the year. Corinne is an unfair book to be compared to, and this nearly topped it.

This book is economical. It does so much with so little. It’ll probably piss off the religious, but they can get fucked because nothing in this is hateful towards religion. It just spits facts. I don’t know what to say really other than I adore this. It tackles weighty issues responsibly and with such pointed insight. The way the narrative style changes to coincide with the main character’s age and perspective is fabulous. It has small, clever, gut-wrenching callbacks woven throughout it, and I’m sure I’ll spot more when I reread it. Everyone feels real. There’s not a character in this book who doesn’t feel intimately familiar.

I think the book’s only weakness is that it’s not going to be universally enjoyed. If you’re a plot whore, leave the chat. “Nothing’s going to happen,” besides character development. If, like me, you think angst is candy, you’re in for a treat. You’re gonna have to pretty much be a white girl with some emotional/religious trauma to truly get the most out of this book. (But that’s a big fucking audience, so dear lord, please give me more.) Also that it’s not longer. I would read so many more pages.

The goddamn book made me like a man in a fedora. Pigs’ll fly.

Who should read this:
Angry sad girls
Bittersweet romance lovers
New England girlies
Anyone who loves character development

Do I want to reread this:
Holy fuck, yes. If not immediately.

Similar books:
* Normal People by Sally Rooney-bittersweet love story with emotional trauma
* Corinne by Rebecca Morrow-realistic, bittersweet romance with religious trauma
* My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh-a love letter to New York angry sad girls
* Anxious People by Fredrik Backman-bouncy narrative and character development
* In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado-romantic abuse explored through writing tropes
* Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke-troubled girl tries to make something of herself
* My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell-inappropriate relationship with a teacher

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I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review. This story, plot and characters make the book feel like it would appeal to teens instead of adults and should be a YA book. The story starts with 7 year old Sam going to the Topsfield Fair with her father. Sam’s 2 year old brother, Noah, has emotional problems. Sam’s parents are divorced and her father , an addict, comes in and out of her life. Sam’s mother , Courtney, is struggling with two jobs and trying to raise her children alone and pay her bills. This coming of age book follows Sam from 7 years old until 19 when she gets accepted to U .Mass , Amherst. Sam has a difficult childhood with many emotional ups and downs and many disappointments. When she discovers rock climbing, a whole new world opens for her. There were no exciting or interesting plots to hold my interest. Much of the narrative was conversation. . I did enjoy reading about places on the north shore of Massachusetts since that’s where I grew up.

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The setting: "...portrait of coming-of-age offers a powerful reflection on class, addiction, parenthood, longing, and ambition." Sam, the protagonist, called monkey by her largely absent father, Mitchell, lives with her mom, Courtney, and her younger brother Noah. Courtney is an overworked, financially struggling [basically single] mom, in an on-again-off-again abusive relationship with her second husband, Jack, who's Noah's father. Noah has MANY issues.

Sam is a misfit [Noah too], has few friends, and finds happiness in rock climbing. The novel follows Sam chronologically from age seven to nineteen. She struggles--they all do; life is not easy for any of them. A novel of teen angst and more. Often depressing, but ultimately...

Mostly, especially the first half+ of the book, is written in short, declarative sentences, which make it an easy fast read [but felt flat]. Not deep--though a lot to digest in the dysfunctional family world.

Climbing is likely a metaphor for determination and achievement.

I struggled and really didn't connect until almost 3/4 through when I though the book hit its stride [and the style of writing/my interest changed!].

I wondered if it would have a pat ending or one that was open ended. No spoiler, but BOTH.

Many peripheral characters--I loved Ann who did not enter til near the end.

Read the author's note!

Solid 3. NB: I did not like the cover.

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Sam is a coming of age story about a young girl, starting at age 7 following her until she’s 19. She lives with her mom and her half brother. Her dad is more absent than present and he struggles with addiction. He introduces her to climbing when she’s 7.
Told from Sam’s perspective, the writing starts off very basic, simplistic, to match her age. But as the book goes on, the writing style matures along with her and the themes get deeper.
My heart went out to Sam. She is not a happy soul. Her father’s undependability weighs on her. She doesn’t make friends easily. As she enters her teen years, she has a crush on her climbing teacher. Her mom struggles to pay the bills and there’s never any extra money.
This is a book that grew on me. The longer it went on, the more engaged I was with Sam as she tried to find her way. It’s a struggle between what brings her joy and what she thinks she should do. It’s also about her being willing to risk her heart after it’s been broken by her dad and her instructor. I also fell in love with Ann; someone who had seen enough of life to press Sam to take chances. In fact, the strength of the book is its realism. All the characters were so well formed, each with their own difficulties but trying to plow ahead.
My thanks to Netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

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This book is an account of a young girls' coming of age while in a difficult situation because of poverty and absent father. I believe it would appeal to young adults

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