The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

From #1 Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.Sam Hill 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...

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Title:The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
Author:Robert Dugoni
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Edition Language:English

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell Reviews

  • Liz

    I’m used to Robert Dugoni for the Tracy Crosswhite series. This book isn’t even a mystery. Instead, it’s the story of a young man growing up with a genetic abnormality, ocular albinism. It’s a heartwarming tale as Sam struggles to avoid school bullies, including the nun who is the principal at the catholic elementary school. But it’s also the story of best friends and the lengths they go to help each other out. There are some laugh out scenes that had me guffawing in the middle of an airplane.

    T

    I’m used to Robert Dugoni for the Tracy Crosswhite series. This book isn’t even a mystery. Instead, it’s the story of a young man growing up with a genetic abnormality, ocular albinism. It’s a heartwarming tale as Sam struggles to avoid school bullies, including the nun who is the principal at the catholic elementary school. But it’s also the story of best friends and the lengths they go to help each other out. There are some laugh out scenes that had me guffawing in the middle of an airplane.

    The story also gives us Sam as an adult forced to confront the same bully and the choices he makes color the next ten years of his life.

    Dugoni tells the story with a brisk writing style using short chapters. It’s a fast, wonderful read that connects with all the emotions. It makes some very poignant points about faith, love and forgiveness. Make sure to read the Acknowledgements at the end of the book. For those who think of Dugoni only as a mystery writer, I urge you to give this one a chance. It really spoke to me.

    My thanks to netgalley and Lake Union for an advance copy of this novel.

  • Larry H

    4.5 stars rounded up.

    Sam Hill's birth in 1957 caused quite a stir, as he was born with ocular albinism, which left him with red pupils. While his religiously devout mother viewed his eyes as evidence of the extraordinary potential his life holds. That's not the unanimous view of everyone in their community, however—his Catholic school classmates refer to him as "Devil Boy."

    Sam's mother was determined that her son live life with great gusto, and not be discouraged by those who treat him badly or

    4.5 stars rounded up.

    Sam Hill's birth in 1957 caused quite a stir, as he was born with ocular albinism, which left him with red pupils. While his religiously devout mother viewed his eyes as evidence of the extraordinary potential his life holds. That's not the unanimous view of everyone in their community, however—his Catholic school classmates refer to him as "Devil Boy."

    Sam's mother was determined that her son live life with great gusto, and not be discouraged by those who treat him badly or try to keep him from the opportunities given to every other child. Sam becomes the target of a trio of school bullies who wish to do him harm because of his eyes. But while his mother believes that events in Sam's life are determined by God's will, Sam isn't quite so sure that God would want him to suffer in fear and loneliness.

    It's the arrival of Ernie Cantwell, the only African American kid in school, who first makes Sam believe people could be heaven-sent. Ernie becomes Sam's closest friend and confidante, and the two help each other battle those driven by fear and prejudice. And when brash Mickie Kennedy arrives at school, she is tougher and stronger than many of the boys, and proves that you really can go through life not caring what people think.

    follows Sam as he travels from childhood to adulthood, experiences the flush of first love and lust, is buoyed by the intense loyalty and love of his closest friends, and, for the first time, realizes that God's will isn't always positive. When a tragedy hits close to home, he has to change the course of his life and become the man his mother always knew he would be, and he learns to keep people at a distance so he doesn't get hurt—although that doesn't always guarantee emotional safety.

    This book chronicles 40 years of Sam's life, relationships, work, love, family, and the bonds of friendship. It's the story of faith, disbelief, loyalty, and the struggle between right and wrong. But more than that, it's the story of one extraordinary boy who grows into an extraordinary man.

    I thought this was a really great book. Sam is a fascinating yet flawed character who is able to find strength and courage in the face of tremendous adversity, thanks to an incredible support system of his parents and his friends. I grew very attached to these characters and found myself worrying about and cheering them, and wishing they'd say the things they needed to, to those they needed to.

    I have seen many people wax poetic about Robert Dugoni's Tracy Crosswhite series, although I've not read any of them. I was really impressed with his storytelling in this book—in some ways it felt a little like John Irving's

    or something similar. It's a book that touched me emotionally and made me think at the same time.

    My one criticism of the book is that it was a bit melodramatic at times, and I felt that a subplot involving the return of a figure from Sam's childhood really wasn't necessary. But beyond that, this is a book which grabbed me from the very first page, and I read it in just a few hours while on a long flight. And I may have brushed away more than a tear or two...

    See all of my reviews at

    , or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at

    .

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    What an engaging and poignant story! Sam Hell was born with ocular albinism, a condition that causes the blood vessels to show through the irises of the eye, giving a pink or red appearance. Sam’s family is deeply spiritual, and his mother believes his condition is simply God’s will.

    Sam endures bullying and outright discrimination due to his physical appearance. His childhood is tough, and he questions his faith. Sam’s mother i

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    What an engaging and poignant story! Sam Hell was born with ocular albinism, a condition that causes the blood vessels to show through the irises of the eye, giving a pink or red appearance. Sam’s family is deeply spiritual, and his mother believes his condition is simply God’s will.

    Sam endures bullying and outright discrimination due to his physical appearance. His childhood is tough, and he questions his faith. Sam’s mother is his best advocate and champion. The love between all members of this family was palpable and inextinguishable.

    The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is about his journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, but if you’ve ever felt different, left out, or lonely, Sam’s story could be your story, too.

    Thank you to Robert Dugoni, Lake Union, and Netgalley, for the ARC. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is now available!

  • Angela M

    4.5 stars

    It was impossible not to care about Sam Hill, his loving parents and his best friends Ernie and Mickie. Impossible not to admire Sam’s strength of character to endure the bullying and ridicule he experienced because of how he looked with his “devil eyes “, red eyes as the result of being born with ocular albinism. Impossible not to love the man he turns out to be. Impossible not to detest the psychotic bully, David Freemon or the mean Sister Beatrice who was unlike any nun I encountered

    4.5 stars

    It was impossible not to care about Sam Hill, his loving parents and his best friends Ernie and Mickie. Impossible not to admire Sam’s strength of character to endure the bullying and ridicule he experienced because of how he looked with his “devil eyes “, red eyes as the result of being born with ocular albinism. Impossible not to love the man he turns out to be. Impossible not to detest the psychotic bully, David Freemon or the mean Sister Beatrice who was unlike any nun I encountered in the 8 years of my grammar school education. Having grown up in a Catholic family and having attended a Catholic grammar school, I am very familiar with the phrase “God’s will” which in my experience was almost always used to justify less than desirable circumstances out of one’s control, as it was with Sam’s mother who uses the phrase frequently. I love the champion that his mother was for him . She’s my favorite character who instills in Sam that his eyes are not rare, but “extraordinary”.

    There are other extraordinary characters who embody what unconditional love is, what friendship truly means. It is a story of fate, of faith, of family and of friendship and how all of these things make us who we are, not how we look. These characters are introduced as Sam’s story is told in alternating time frames between the present and the years he was growing up . I was connected the whole way. If I have one criticism, it’s just that the ending was way too much, as if the author felt he had to tie up every loose end. Having said that, this well written story is moving. I felt that it was even more meaningful when I read in the acknowledgements about how his parents were when his brother was born with Down syndrome. I was moved that the seed for this story was an article he read about a young boy in Australia who “had been denied admittance to Catholic school because he had been born with ocular albinism and the nuns thought he’d be disruptive to the other students. It turned out that the other students had nicknamed this poor child the devil boy.” I’m glad he read that article and that he gave us Sam Hell because of it.

    Thanks to Diane for letting me know while she was reading this that I should probably read it . Without her nudge I may have missed it .

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Lake Union Press through NetGalley.

  • Em Lost In Books

    Sam was born with a rare genetic condition which made his pupils red. Because of this he was rejected admission in a Catholic School but the his brave mother did not let it happen and fight against this rejection. This was only a start to the difficulties th

    Sam was born with a rare genetic condition which made his pupils red. Because of this he was rejected admission in a Catholic School but the his brave mother did not let it happen and fight against this rejection. This was only a start to the difficulties that Sam, a great student, was about to face in his life because of his eye condition. He was called "devil boy" in his school and was an easy target for bullying. But he soon learned to stand up to this hatred against him, and there were his parents and friends on every turn who never lost in faith in him; and were a constant source of strength.

    Story was told in past and present. Dugoni kept the chapters short and a very tight writing. Perhaps because he also write thrillers that he turned every chapter in a short suspense story keeping me on the edge. It was to put it down as I kept telling myself one more chapter and at the end of that chapter something would happen that I had to read the next chapter.

    I don't even remember how I stumbled upon this gem, all I know is that am glad I read this. It is hard not to love this book for the courage that Sam shows when he was targeted because he was different, for the love and faith of parents in their son and for how they supported him, for the friends who devoted themselves to him even when they were frowned upon for it.

    Dugoni explored themes of coming of age, honor, dignity, love, bullying, faith, in simple yet lively manner which made it a riveting read for me.

    Highly recommended.

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