THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL by Robert Dugoni
This novel is a beautiful, timely story about discrimination and difference, family and faith, and one guy who makes everyday life extraordinary through his strength of character: Sam Hill.
As the story unfolds in Sam’s voice–at six years old and forty years old–the reader aches for a gentle, likable hero who quietly survives everything he is forced to endure.
Sam is born with ocular albinism, which means he has red pupils. He desperately wants to believe his mother’s description of his condition as God’s will, but he struggles against bullying and prejudice. At his private Catholic school, he’s taunted, left to eat lunch alone on the bleachers, and given the nicknames of Sam Hell and Devil Boy. After a vicious beating, he ends up in the hospital. And yet, he’s not alone.
A small group of equally extraordinary people will do anything to protect Sam, and remarkable bonds develop in his relationships. His parents are devoted to each other and him, but his mother, in particular, is a force of nature. A fierce advocate for young Sam, she’s the parent every child with a disability needs. And when two other misfits enroll at Our Lady of Mercy, Sam finds friendship with Ernie, the only black child at the school, and Mickie, a firecracker ostracized for flaunting conventions about how ‘good girls’ behave.
The trio forms an unbreakable alliance, and Sam’s future looks bright. But when tragedy hits, he rethinks his dreams and his faith. Clearly his mother is wrong; he is not destined to live an extraordinary life (even though his self-less actions suggest the opposite). Hiding his eyes behind brown contacts, Sam becomes a small-town ophthalmologist and settles for a mediocre love life. Until his childhood nemesis reappears … and is even more dangerous.
Sam attempts to stand up to him, but tragedy strikes a second time. In order to make peace with subsequent events, Sam travels halfway around the world to volunteer as an eye doctor for poor children. On his journey, he gradually finds self-acceptance and a way back to his faith, his friends, and his home.
Despite touching on dark subject matter—child abuse, bullying, racism, and alcoholism—this unique story overflows with hope and unforgettable characters. It will stay in your heart long after finding a permanent place on your bookshelves.
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