Primary Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction
Published: 24 April 2018 by Lake Union Publishing
Page count: 434
My Format: ebook (personal copy)
Would I recommend it: Absolutely
Commission Link: Buy The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
My rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis from Goodreads
Sam Hell 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.
This book is the best I’ve read so far in 2020! I enjoyed this so much that I’m finding it hard to write this review and do the book justice! Here are my pros and cons for The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell:
- The title intrigued me and is what initially drew me to this book.
- I’ve had this book in my library for a while now, but just never got around to reading it. When I was browsing my Kindle library for my next book, I stumbled across it and decided I’d give it a go. I didn’t remember anything about the book at all, and I didn’t review the synopsis before I started reading it. It was a unique experience to read this book with no pre-conceived notions or awareness of the plot. I was immediately drawn in and the story still hasn’t let go of me, and I finished it over 12 days ago!
- The writing style was superb. I keep notes from time to time when I read book and one of the notes I wrote for this one was “As I read this book, I have this overwhelmingly comfortable feeling of being curled up on a couch with a new friend who is telling me their life’s story”.
- I don’t even know where to begin with the characterizations! Every person in the book will become your friend, your enemy, your neighbor, your teacher, and your family. The characters are so incredibly well developed that you will absolutely feel like you know everyone personally. The emotional connection I developed with the main characters in particular was phenomenal.
- This book is an emotional roller coaster! You will be happy, sad, angry, embarrassed, furious, overjoyed, overwhelmed, heartbroken, and just about everything in between.
- Mickie rocks! She is seriously awesome!
- Sam’s mom is an actual rock! What an awesome and loving parent she was! Embarrassing to Sam sometimes? Absolutely. But every single action she ever took was out of love for her son and her desire to ensure he had a “normal” life and “normal” opportunities.
- This story is uplifting and just so positive. I think reading stories (even fiction) about people dealing with and overcoming what they see or others perceive as an adversity can be so encouraging and helpful to others.
- There is a Christian element to this book that I particularly enjoyed. Faith in God was explored from the perspective of fully committed Christians to questioning/disbelieving individuals. I thought the inclusion of religion and believing in God’s will was enlightening and had a positive impact to the story overall.
- Sister Beatrice… ah, Sister Beatrice. Thank goodness forgiveness doesn’t have an expiration date.
Every once in a while a book comes along that ticks all the boxes for me and I know it will be memorable. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is that book! I really loved it and I wish I could read books like this every single day. This book is far and away the best one I’ve read in 2020 and it has easily cracked my Top 25 Books ever list. I HIGHLY recommend it.
This is my first Dugoni book and if his others are anything at all like this one I’m going to be reading them all! Any Dugoni fans out there? Do you recommend any of his other novels?
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(image from Goodreads)