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The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  113,205 ratings  ·  11,154 reviews
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 w
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Lake Union Publishing
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Brian Harris I think it depends on how you define "young" and the maturity of the kids in question. There is some sexuality, language, and a touch of violence, but…moreI think it depends on how you define "young" and the maturity of the kids in question. There is some sexuality, language, and a touch of violence, but I feel like a mature kid in the 12+ range will enjoy a lot of the thematic elements, particularly in the story of Sam's younger years. My 13-year-old son is currently reading it, and, despite is teenage angst and general hatred of everything, he has told me how much he likes the book multiple times.(less)

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Angela M (On a little break)
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
It was impossible not to care about Sam Hill, his loving parents and his best friends Ernie and Mickie. Impossible not to admire Sam’s strength of character to endure the bullying and ridicule he experienced because of how he looked with his “devil eyes “, red eyes as the result of being born with ocular albinism. Impossible not to love the man he turns out to be. Impossible not to detest the psychotic bully, David Freemon or the mean Sister Beatrice who was unlike any nun I encountered
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Update June 6, 2022

I read this story in March of 2018 and it's a favorite of mine. Finally I was able to listen to the audiobook, narrated by the author, and I love the narration. Once again, the story brought tears to my eyes but I'm also struck by the love of Sam's parents for him and each other and his love for them. I was reminded how humorous this story is despite very serious and sad subject matters. I love the banter between Sam's parents and with Sam.

This book brought out so many fee
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m used to Robert Dugoni for the Tracy Crosswhite series. This book isn’t even a mystery. Instead, it’s the story of a young man growing up with a genetic abnormality, ocular albinism. It’s a heartwarming tale as Sam struggles to avoid school bullies, including the nun who is the principal at the catholic elementary school. But it’s also the story of best friends and the lengths they go to help each other out. There are some laugh out scenes that had me guffawing in the middle of an airplane.

I may get crucified for this review, anyway, I’ll take my chances.

I, like many others, enjoy an underdog story. This is the story of Sam Hill, who has ocular albinism, a genetic abnormality that makes his eyes look red. It’s the early 1960s, so people are less enlightened. Sam’s mom is an ardent Catholic and she’s fierce. She would not let anyone or anything stay in the way of her son getting an education and achieving his potential. Sam’s hardships start early on, practically on the first day a
Larry H
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up.

Sam Hill's birth in 1957 caused quite a stir, as he was born with ocular albinism, which left him with red pupils. While his religiously devout mother viewed his eyes as evidence of the extraordinary potential his life holds. That's not the unanimous view of everyone in their community, however—his Catholic school classmates refer to him as "Devil Boy."

Sam's mother was determined that her son live life with great gusto, and not be discouraged by those who treat him badly or
Elyse Walters
FANTASTIC audiobook!!!!
.....I love Sam!!!!
.....l loved the way Sam’s mother defended him: awesome dialogue!!
.....loved the storytelling....
.....Endearing - engrossing - and inspiring!!!!

Thumbs Up - up- up!!!! 👍💕📚💕👍📚

Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 richly drawn stars to The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

What an engaging and poignant story! Sam Hell was born with ocular albinism, a condition that causes the blood vessels to show through the irises of the eye, giving a pink or red appearance. Sam’s family is deeply spiritual, and his mother believes his condition is simply God’s will.

Sam endures bullying and outright discrimination due to his physical appearance. His childhood is tough, and he questions his faith. Sam’s moth
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Raise your right hand if you were bullied as a kid.

Now raise your left hand if you still have the emotional scars from it.

I’m lowering mine just briefly enough to write out my thoughts on "The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell." While my sins were being too skinny, too pale, too meek and too much or too little of whatever my tormenters deemed acceptable at any given moment, Sam Hill had only one: he had ocular albinism.

When he was born, even his dad took one look at his red eyes and gasped, “Wha
Em Lost In Books
"Life is either a collision of random events, like billiard balls during a break careening off and into one another, or if you are so inclined to believe, our predetermined fate—what my mother took such great comfort in calling God’s will."

Sam was born with a rare genetic condition which made his pupils red. Because of this he was rejected admission in a Catholic School but the his brave mother did not let it happen and fight against this rejection. This was only a start to the difficulties
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Robert Dugoni, Lake Union Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

In his latest standalone novel, Robert Dugoni shows just how versatile he can be with his writing. His dazzling prose and wonderful ability to convey a story will warm the heart of many readers throughout this powerful novel. Sam Hill was born just outside the Bay Area to two loving parents. As he tells i
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
5 most touching extraordinary stars!

At times you walk away from a book with feelings and emotions and then an hour, a day, a week later, you have forgotten all that you have read. However, there are some books that when you finish them, you know in your heart that they will never leave you. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell was just such a book.

We meet a wonderful cast of characters, characters we would like to know, characters we would love to have as parents, friends, and neighbors, character
Diane S ☔
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
4+. Okay, I admit it, I am now officially a marshmallow. This book about a young boy, born with red eyes, due to ocular albanism really got to me. First, I could relate greatly to his experiences in Catholic school, been there done that. Some good sisters, some who should never have been let near small children. Sam, is called names, bullied but he does have wonderful, loving parents, and then a black boy enters the school. The two outcasts become fast friends. Then a little later a girl, who is ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

"We realize it is in those quiet moments that each of us has the ability to make our life extraordinary."

Sam was born with ocular albinism which resulted in him having red pupils. While many of his peers were freaked out by this and called him "devil boy", his Mother declared it's "God's will" and fought for Sam to be able to attend Catholic school. Sam suffered from the ignorance of others (including a nun at the school) and constant bullying. He then found friendship with Ernie, the o
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
4.25 Amazing and Brilliant Stars.* (rounded down)

I’ve had “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell” on my Audible Shelf for more than 6 months now, ever since I saw some pretty extraordinary reviews from some of my Goodreads friends. I’m not sure what took me so long to listen to it. Whatever the reason, let me just say that I am so glad I finally got around to it. From the first paragraph to the last, I experienced fits of laughter and tears. Sam, you have my heart.

When Sam was born, the first word
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was looking for a good change-of-pace book from my usual thrillers and crime fiction. I wanted something easy to read, but with real depth and minimal gore. My partner suggested this one. Thanks, Jean!

The Extraordinary life of Sam Hell covers Sam’s life from age 3 to age 40 something. Sam Hill was born with ocular albinism and red eyes. What an albatross for a young boy. Sam’s mother, a devout Catholic, loves her son dearly and explains to him that his extraordinary eyes mean that he will lead
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth." (Mike Tyson)

Action steps on the toes of re-action. You never fully realize what you're capable of until backed into that corner or running out of rungs on the ladder of life.

Samuel Hill is the only son of an only son. While that may be rare in itself, Sam has been born with ocular albinism. While the lyrics of "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" seem strange, stranger still is the fact that Sam's eyes have a pink/red tone. Kids will find
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Extraordinary Stars
This is the story of Sam Hill, who was born in 1957, with ocular albinism, which made him have red eyes.
He was born to very loving parents, the mother being very religious and thinking Sam was extraordinary and would live an extraordinary life.
Sam attends Catholic school and is bullied and called “the devil boy” by many children, but he also makes two friends who become lifelong friends, and I just love their story.
There are many very sad moments in the book, things Sam e
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Extraordinary Stars!

THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL by ROBERT DUGONI is a touching, uplifting, heartwarming and an absolutely wonderful novel that had me totally engrossed and interested throughout this entire book. I was totally captivated and immersed with the voice of Sam and his story as he looks back on his life, making this novel extremely hard for me to put down. Sam totally touched my heart!

ROBERT DUGONI delivers an inspirational and beautifully written story here with wonderful
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!!! I had no idea what to expect going into this one, but I absolutely loved it and it was fantastic as an audio book. I immediately looked in to who narrated it so I could find other books read by him, but realized the author narrated his own story! It was a beautiful... both heart breaking and heart warming. I loved the characters, including Sam's wonderful parents and his two best friends, Ernie and Mickie. This may be my favorite read of 2020 so far! ...more
At his birth, Sam Hill's mother predicts that he will have an extraordinary life due to his extraordinary condition but it doesn't feel that way to Sam when he starts at the local Catholic School and is called "Devil Boy" and nicknamed Sam Hell. Sam has bright red eyes from ocular albinism that cause everyone to stare at him and makes him a target for the school bully. Sam has a protective and loving family who teach him to be resiliant and he eventually finds a friend in Ernie, the only African ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
The cycle of life, '...the inevitable markings that only time deliver' (speaking of aging), loss of faith, moments in life that are kept close to the heart.  The value of a true friend.  I was taken with the pure love of Sam's parents for each other and for their boy, Sam.  In their minds, those red eyes did not make Sam different, they made him extraordinary.  And so he was.  A bit saccharin for me before it was over, not my preferred flavor.  But it was well-written and a little different, and ...more
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
3.5 Stars

There are many extraordinary things explored in this story like a Mother’s love and belief in just how extraordinary her son is and how our main character Sam HIll overcomes the many obstacles throughout his life from a young age. I loved Sam’s compassion and understanding and it was inspiring to read. We see the best and the worst in people and at times this story was heartbreaking and heartwarming with all the themes explored in this story,

I found it too gushy, sentimental and too fo
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one turned me to mush and made my eyes leak. While the characters were very religious, the story is not preachy. I felt it was more a story of faith, acceptance, and love. Sam certainly did have an extraordinary life. Very heartwarming!
L A i N E Y
“Not rare, Doctor.” my mother corrected.

The award for MVP of this story is obviously his mother.

The first half is hands down five stars material but the second half levels out to an okay read.
Kristen Sagafi
Aug 29, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. I can empathize with a child who gets bullied because he's different. But the author lost me completely and forever with his Madonna/whore treatment of the female characters and the Catholic miracle at the end. I haven't read any of Dugoni's other books. Maybe this is just the way he rolls when it comes to his female characters: flat in all aspects save the bosom. But, come on. This book isn't a romance, so why is the author expounding on the physical traits of the fe ...more
4.5 stars for audio version of The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, as narrated by the author himself.

This book sucked me in and put me through the wringer. I was fully invested in the story and characters, and I got a little overly bitter a few times when I was forced to put the book down to go do non-reading things.

The book alternates between brief snippets of Sam as an adult trying his best to navigate grown-up relationships, and longer sections telling the story of how Sam grew up. Born with
Aug 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Spoilers in Review:

Blecccchhh! I must say this is the first time I've ever really felt misled by the reviews on Goodreads regarding prompting me to read this book. I am shocked by the numerous 5*star reviews for this book on this site. Truly shocked. This novel is just terrible. Admittedly, the first part of the novel is the best part. I was drawn in by the first few chapters and sympathetic to the plight of a child born with a problem like ocular albinism. The depiction of his mother's advocacy
Mary  Carrasco
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sam Hill was born with red eyes. His mother, a woman of deep faith, deemed him extraordinary and believed he would lead an extraordinary life. Sam, however, felt anything but. He struggled to find meaning among the mishaps and tragedies throughout his life.

I was immediately drawn into this story and some of the amazing characters. Sam's mom was my favorite. There were some really funny and also heartbreaking moments as well. This is definitely one of the best novels that I've read so far this ye
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine

I'm beginning to learn that audiobooks either work or do not for me. There is no middle ground. I'm happy to report that The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell definitely worked!

There are many things I loved about this book but my overwhelming response upon finishing it was Wow, this book was so refreshing! I can't recall the last time I read a book centered around a likable protagonist with an amazing and supportive family. That's not to s
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Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Internationally Best-Selling Author of 20 novels in The Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, the David Sloane legal thriller series, and the Charles Jenkins espionage series. He is also the author of several standalone literary novels including The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell and T ...more

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“There comes a day in every man’s life when he stops looking forward and starts looking back.” 32 likes
“There comes a day in every man's life when he stops looking forward and starts looking back.
Because of my father's circumstances, I had a sad commentary on life, but I now understood that he was offering me his own gift, one that only time can provide. He was offering me the gift of perspective. My father was telling me that while we tend to remember the dramatic incidents that change history---Armstrong's walk on the moon, Nixon's resignation, and the Loma Prieta earthquake---we live for the quiet, intimate moments that mark not our calendars, but our hearts: The day we marry. The days our children are born. Their first step. Their first word. Their first day of school. And when our children grow, we remember those moments with a touch of melancholy: the day they get their driver's license, the day we drive them to college, the day they marry, and the day they have their children.
And the cycle begins anew.
We realize it is in those quiet moments that each of us has the ability to make our lives extraordinary.”
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