The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, by Robert Dugoni

Don’t you love it when every time you finish a book, you think, “Okay, this one is my new favorite book!” Well, in spite all all the wonderful novels I’ve read this year alone, this one is my new favorite book. I won’t be able to read half as much next month, so I’m glad that October ends with this gem.

The story:

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 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.

From a reader’s point of view:

If you worry this is going to be a Christian book, don’t. It is not, not one bit preachy. In fact, I found Sam’s struggle with religion to be very relatable. Although its weighty topics include bullying, discrimination, racism, and domestic and child abuse, this book transports you into a world of peacefulness and human kindness that you had forgotten existed, and the relationship with his loving and supportive parents is unlike anything else you’ve read before.

It’s magnificent, both funny and sad.

From a writer’s point of view:

Dugoni uses short chapters and simple writing style, making this book a fast, fresh, and wonderful read.

In 3 words:

Authentic, heartwarming, uplifting.