Sam by Allegra Goodman
1/3/23; 336 pages
Dial Press, Random House
Sam by Allegra Goodman is a recommended coming-of-age story narrated by the protagonist from ages 7 to 19 years-old.
Sam is an active seven-year-old girl who lives with her mother,
Courtney, and half-brother, Noah, in Beverley, Massachusetts. Courtney
does her best but she has to work hard trying to make ends meet and
doesn't have a lot of extra time or energy. Sam adores her father,
Mitchell, but he can be an unreliable part of her life. What he does do
right is introducing Sam to climbing, a sport she enjoys. Climbing is
something she enjoys and continues doing as she grows up even as she
struggles to fit in with others.
The novel is narrated by Sam in the third person present tense. At
the beginning the sentences are very simple and child-like to resemble a
seven year-old and then become increasingly more complex as Sam grows
a reader, this strategy wasn't entirely successful for me, especially
at the opening of the novel. Later sections of the novel where she deals
with what is a serious, actionable situation, her limited point-of-view
is too narrow and restrictive.
Sam's love of climbing and her striving to excel at the sport does show her focus and determination to attain her goals despite her insecurities in other areas. All of the sections concerning climbing are descriptive and insightful. The narrative also competently describes her complicated life in a dysfunctional family. Her father struggles with addiction, something which she doesn't understand when young. Her mother has poor judgment in men; this doesn't just include Mitchell as Noah's father, Jack, is abusive. 3.5 rounded down.