The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell: A Novel by Robert Dugoni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I heard that Robert Dugoni, one of my favorite thriller authors, had a different sort of book coming out, I had to have a look at it, too. The rich characterizations in his plot-driven thrillers have kept me enthralled for many an hour. I figured he could pull off a more character-driven story. He does.
I give this story four stars, which on Goodreads.com is supposed to mean "I really liked it" (on my personal scale it means "I would recommend it"). I ultimately did like it. As expected, the characters and settings are richly drawn. The prose is crisp and clear. The dialog and action are realistic. On the other hand, Mr. Dugoni is never kind to his characters and in this character-driven story he's positively brutal. Saying too much about that would ruin the story. Suffice to say that anyone who had to deal with elementary school bullying will be squirming during the early chapters.
As the saying goes, it gets better. Sam and his few friends grow up and cope. Life continues to throw hardship at them and they deal with it. They don't always make the best choices. But they keep going. They wrestle with meaning and faith and love. They have extraordinarily ordinary lives. I do recommend this book.
Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.
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