Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

I'm the first to admit that the premise of The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell just sounds boring. Sam Hill is born with a condition called ocular albinism, which means his eyes are red. In school, he's given the nickname "Devil Boy" and even his friends call him Sam Hell instead of Hill, at times. In the present day, he's an eye doctor who wears colored contact lenses. The book goes back and forth between Sam's present and his past, where he constantly dealt with a bully and now has discovered that same bully has grown up to be a wife beater and a dangerous cop. Sam's unmarried but close with his female business partner, who was one of his childhood best friends. 

While Sam Hell is mostly about his childhood and how he became the man he is now, there's that touch of mystery in the future. Will Sam be able to help the wife of the man who used to torment him at school? Is he in danger, as well, now that the bully has come back into his life? Will Sam ever realize who he belongs with?  

Highly recommended - Seriously, the premise did not interest me at all. But, my friend Paula said, "I think you would like this, Nancy," and then my friend Eileen recommended it to me through Goodreads, so I decided if two friends thought I'd like it I should give it a go. And, sure enough, they had me pegged. I found The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell almost impossible to put down. I was completely immersed in Sam's life, his challenges, his friendships, and the romance that clearly needed to happen. 

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell does have its flaws. For example, not once did the author mention a sensitivity to light, which seems like a no-brainer. I looked it up and yes, ocular albinism should cause photophobia. I have gray eyes and am so sensitive to light that I wear sunglasses even when it's cloudy, sometimes in the rain. I turn down the light on my electronic devices, as well. So, that naturally jumped out at me. I also thought it was strange that he was still insecure about his eye color, even when he was wearing contact lenses, especially given the fact that he always had a nice circle of friends and plenty of support at home. But, the story was so captivating that I didn't care about its flaws and only felt like I was briefly pulled out of it, now and then. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is definitely one of the most enjoyable books I've read in 2020. 

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  1. I had trouble posting my comment so this might be a repeat. Is there enough for a book club to discuss? My club has picked some pretty dark reads lately.

    1. Sorry you had difficulty commenting. I wish there was something I could do about that. I think there's probably plenty to discuss. Sam has to deal with not only a child bully who later becomes a grown-up bully but also a nun who is troublesome. You could talk about bullying, domestic abuse, the difference family support makes with a disability, whether or not Sam's eyes really are a disability or just an anomaly, how the insecurity follows him to adulthood. I think there's plenty and it's a very absorbing read.


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