How Family, Faith and Friendship contributed to The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

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My Review:

Sometimes you luck out and find a book that is just what the doctor ordered. There is nothing like a quick escape, when you can lose yourself in a touching, inspirational, easy to read story.  I loved this book so much!

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is about a boy born with ocular albinism to a loving and devoted Catholic mother and hardworking pharmacist father.  Sam Hill has the eyes of a devil; they are red due to his condition, and his unusual look makes it difficult for him to blend in.  His classmates shun him and even the Sister at his Catholic school treats him unkindly. He becomes the target of a bully and chooses not to rat him out due to fear.  Eddie, the only black child in the school and possibly the entire town, and Mao, the daughter of an alcoholic who has a reputation for being promiscuous, both outcasts in their own right, are Sam’s only friends.  Embolden with his mother’s faith and his father’s guidance, Eddie’s kindness and sports expertise, and Mao’s unconditional love and friendship, Sam and his devilish eyes make it through high school.

Sam faces challenges once again when his big goals that include pursuing higher education are put on hold. His love for family supersede his desire to go to college and he stays around to help when his parents need him most.

Sam struggles with relationships and acceptance but has a big heart and an open mind.  His experiences allow him to grow to be a man with confidence, skills and admirable values. We see how his belief system is created and influenced in childhood by his parents, friends, teachers and bullies and challenged by the same in his adult life.  Sam is understanding and compassionate, and he believes in forgiveness.  His love for his family and friends is unwavering and author Robert Dugoni shows us that our differences provide even more opportunities to lead extraordinary lives.

If you liked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, A Man Called Ove, and The Rosie Project you will like The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.  I highly recommend this one!

Goodreads Summary

Robert Dugoni

About the Author: 

Robert Dugoni is the New York Times, #1 Amazon, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author of the Tracy Crosswhite series: My Sister’s Grave, Her Last Breath, In the Clearing, The Trapped Girl and Close to Home, as well as the short prequels The Academy and Third Watch. The police procedural featuring Seattle Homicide Detective Tracy Crosswhite has kept Dugoni in the Amazon top 10 for more than three years and sold more than 4 million copies. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, released April 2018. Dugoni’s first series featured attorney David Sloane and CIA agent Charles Jenkins.
He is the winner of the Nancy Pearl Award for fiction, a two-time nominee for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction, A two-time nominee for the Mystery Writer’s of America Edgar Award and a two-time nominee for the International Thriller of the year. His non-fiction expose, The Cyanide Canary, was a 2004 Best Book of the Year. He is published in more than 30 countries and two dozen languages.
You can sign up for his newsletter at:
http://www.robertdugoni.com and message him on facebook, twitter and instagram
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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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As seen in Goodreads:

The #1 New York Times bestseller and modern classic that’s been changing lives for a decade gets a gorgeous revamped cover and special additional content.

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

My Comments:

The most important message from Thirteen Reasons Why is that how we treat others can effect them in bigger ways than we realize and we should be cognizant of our actions and interactions. At 16 Hannah has committed suicide and has left behind audio cassette tapes for the people who contributed to her unhappiness as one thing lead to another and her depression snowballed. Each person mentioned in the tapes is supposed to listen so they can see how their actions impacted Hannah. Clay listens to the tapes and little by little begins to understand her mindset as different people let her down along the way. The story is a sad one, and each person in her life had an opportunity to “save” her but nobody realized how bad she needed saving until it was too late.

My teenage son read this in a day and suggested I read it. His high school sent an email to all parents bringing to our attention the Netflix series based on the book and warning that the TV version may glamorize suicide and to watch and discuss it with your children.

Bullying, promiscuity, and teenage drama are not new topics but author Jay Asher does a nice job delivering a fast moving, suspenseful novel for adults and teens which sparks important conversation about the serious topics of suicide and depression.

The national phone number and website for help is 1-800 SUICIDE and www.hopeline.com.

 

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Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing.

He has published only one book to date, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was published in October 2007. He is currently working on his second Young Adult novel, and has written several picture books and screenplays. Thirteen Reasons Why has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review. It also has received high reviews from fellow authors such as Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher, and Gordon Kormon.