The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

EXCERPT: My mother was not the object of their interest. It seemed that when the doctor had placed me upon my mother’s stomach to cut the umbilical cord, I’d finally opened my eyes. And that’s when the euphoria became bewilderment. The doctor froze, slack jawed. The attending nurse let out a yip, which she belatedly tried to cover by placing her hand over her mouth.
‘Give me my son,’ my mother had said amid the silent stares, whereupon the nurse had swaddled me in a blanket and handed me to her.
This was how my father found us when he waded through the crowd for a closer inspection and looked me in the eyes for the first time.
‘What the Sam Hell?’ he whispered.

ABOUT ‘THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL’: Sam Hill always saw the world through different eyes. Born with red pupils, he was called “Devil Boy” or Sam “Hell” 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.

MY THOUGHTS: I wanted to like this a whole lot more than I did. Where do I start?

There were medical errors that made me cringe. Occular Albinism is not merely a case of having red eyes. There would have been multiple other complications affecting Sam’s sight and life. Also, Sam leaves the surgery for a child’s detached retina for a few weeks. This is an injury that is treated by immediate surgery. Delaying surgery is both dangerous and negligent.

Sam’s life isn’t particularly extraordinary. Any child who has a disability or is ‘different’ in any way experiences all the same prejudices and ostracism that Sam did. And any mother worth her salt will stand up and fight for her child, just as Sam’s did.

Mickie was the outstanding character for me, and I would have loved more of her story incorporated into the book.

There were parts of the story that I enjoyed and which touched me, particularly in the second half of the book, and parts that bored me. I didn’t dislike it, but nor did I love it.


#TheExtraordinaryLifeOfSamHell #NetGalley

I: @robertdugoni @amazonpublishing

T: @robertdugoni @AmazonPub

#familydrama #friendship #historicalfiction

THE AUTHOR: A writer turned lawyer turned writer.
Robert Dugoni was born in Idaho and raised in Northern California the middle child of a family of ten siblings. Dugoni jokes that he didn’t get much of a chance to talk, so he wrote. By the seventh grade he knew he wanted to be a writer.

Dugoni wrote his way to Stanford University, receiving writing awards along the way, and majored in communications/journalism and creative writing while working as a reporter for the Stanford Daily. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and worked briefly as a reporter in the Metro Office and the San Gabriel Valley Office of the Los Angeles Times.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.


Author: sandysbookaday

I love good quality chocolate. I love the ocean and love to be in, on or beside it. I read any and every where. I am a proud mum and Nana. I like wine, gin, Southern Comfort, a cold Heineken on a hot day. I am very versatile like that. I cross stitch, do jigsaws, garden, and work on a farm. I am an occasional scribbler. I have far too many books I want to read to ever find the time to die. I am an active member of Goodreads as Sandy *the world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* and review on Amazon under the name Sandyj21. My Goodreads reviews are automatically linked to my Facebook page. Groups I belong to and participate in on Goodreads include: The Mystery, Crime and Thriller Group; Mysteries and Crime Thrillers; Psychological Thrillers; Reading for Pleasure; Crime Detective Mystery Thrillers; English Mysteries; Dead Good Crime; Kindle English Mystery, All About Books and NZ Readers. April 2016 I made the Top 1% of Goodreads reviewers (As follows) Hello Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*, In our community of readers, you stand out in a notable way: You're one of the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! With every rave and every pan, with every excited GIF and every critical assessment, you've helped the Goodreads community get closer to a very important milestone – the 50 Million Reviews mark!

4 thoughts on “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni”

  1. Great review, Sandy. I had students with Occular Albinism and they were almost blind, as well as having some other issues. That seems odd that Dugoni would not have known that. This was one that never appealed to me, now I’m glad I never added it.

    Liked by 1 person

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