Book Review:  Sam, by Allegra Goodman

Image belongs to Random House/The Dial Press.

Title:  Sam      
Author: Allegra Goodman    
Genre: Fiction    
Rating:  3.0

There is a girl, and her name is Sam. She adores her father, though he isn’t around much. Her mother, Courtney, struggles to make ends meet, and never fails to remind her daughter that her life should be different. Sam doesn’t fit in at school, where the other girls have the right shade of blue jeans and don’t question the rules. Sam doesn’t care about jeans or rules. She just loves to climb–trees, fences, walls, the side of a building. When she’s climbing, she discovers a place she belongs: she can turn off her brain, pain has a purpose, and it’s okay if you want to win.

As Sam grows into her teens, she grapples with self-doubt and insecurity. She yearns for her climbing coach to notice her, but his attention crosses boundaries she doesn’t know how to resist. She wishes her father would leave for good, instead of always coming and going, but once he’s gone, she realizes how much she’s lost. She rages against her mother’s constant pressure to plan for a more secure future. Wrestling with who she wants to be in the face of what she’s expected to do, Sam comes to understand that she alone can make her dreams come true.

This book felt very pointless to me. What was the plot? I’m not sure. What about conflict? Um…Yeah, there wasn’t anything in particular, except for Sam’s self-destructive tendencies. Sam doesn’t just “grapple with self-doubt and insecurity” as the blurb says. She’s flat-out childish and selfish—and frequently astonished when things turn out badly. Maybe this just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m not sure why I even bothered finishing this.

Allegra Goodman lives in Massachusetts. Sam is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/The Dial Press in exchange for an honest review.)

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