READ WITH JENNA BOOK CLUB PICK AS FEATURED ON TODAY • “I’ve been an Allegra Goodman fan for years, but Sam is hands down my new favorite. I loved this powerful and endearing portrait of a girl who must summon deep within herself the grit and wisdom to grow up.”—Lily King, New York Times bestselling author of Writers & Lovers
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • What happens to a girl’s sense of joy and belonging—to her belief in herself—as she becomes a woman? This unforgettable portrait of coming-of-age offers subtle yet powerful reflections on class, parenthood, addiction, lust, and the irrepressible power of dreams.
A VOGUE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
“There is a girl, and her name is Sam.” So begins Allegra Goodman’s moving and wise new novel.
Sam is seven years old and living in Beverly, Massachusetts. She adores her father, though he isn’t around much. Her mother struggles to make ends meet, and never fails to remind Sam that if she studies hard and acts responsibly, adulthood will be easier—more secure and comfortable. But comfort and security are of little interest to Sam. She doesn’t fit in at school, where the other girls have the right shade of blue jeans and don’t question the rules. She doesn’t care about jeans or rules. All she wants to climb. Hanging from the highest limbs of the tallest trees, scaling the side of a building, Sam feels free.
As a teenager, Sam begins to doubt herself. She yearns to be noticed, even as she wants to disappear. When her climbing coach takes an interest in her, his attention is more complicated than she anticipated. She resents her father’s erratic behavior, but she grieves after he’s gone. And she resists her mother’s attempts to plan for her future, even as that future draws closer.
The simplicity of this tender, emotionally honest novel is what makes it so powerful. Sam by Allegra Goodman will break your heart, but will also leave you full of hope.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We were completely dazzled by Allegra Goodman’s bittersweet coming-of-age novel and the way her characters seem so flesh-and-blood real. We follow Sam as she morphs from a rambunctious toddler to a thoughtful young woman with a passion for rock climbing and geology, getting to know her harried single mother, flighty father, and challenging little brother along the way. Goodman keeps the story moving with crisp writing and dramatic, emotional scenes. Sam vividly captures the heartache of learning to be your own person. It’s the kind of novel you’ll want to share with the important people in your life.
A competitive rock climber comes of age at the turn of the 21st century in the bracing latest from Goodman (The Chalk Artist). Sam lives with her financially struggling mom, Courtney, and younger half-brother, Noah, somewhere in New England. She craves the time and attention of her dad, Mitchell, an unreliable traveling performer (juggling, poems on demand, harmonica) who struggles with an unspecified drug addiction. At seven, Sam discovers climbing and devotes herself to the sport, though her natural skill often crumbles under pressure. In high school, Sam is annoyed by Courtney's constant pressure to go to college, and has to deal with Noah's rage issues. Meanwhile, an attraction to her climbing coach, Declan, becomes a secret sexual relationship. She quits climbing when the dalliance with Declan implodes, then shuns Mitchell after he returns and claims to be back for good. As high school winds down, Sam faces a tragedy and waffles over whether to go to college or get a job to help Courtney. Sam's mostly quotidian travails gain heft through Goodman's perceptiveness, specificity regarding Sam's emotions, and arresting turns of phrase ("When she heaves herself over the top, she is a castaway collapsing on dry land. Battered, broken, saved"). It's impressive how much emotional power is packed into this relatively contained story.
Growing up in a broken home
It is simply a book about the average girl going up in a divorced family. And she has some struggles but in the end she is on her way to be a success. So no excuses, get your life in order everyone.
Weird but really good.
I loved this book. It’s strange and wandering and really well written. It is so true to the teen mind. Amazing!
What a great book!! I enjoyed every page!!
Great book!! It’s a fast read!