Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Book of Samuel

Erik Raschke's The Book of Samuel is a complex work, obviously painstakingly researched. It strikes me as a labor of love.

Set in the Reagan-era eighties, this is not a typical YA novel but a coming-of-age tale of a young boy caught between escalating cycles of prejudice and violence, trying to find his own path.

Samuel's father, once a respected professor, now spends his days camped outside the family home in a canvas tent, studying scripture. His mother, a survivor of childhood polio, works long hours to keep the family solvent with a twisted, aching back,while Samuel's grandmother, embittered by a life of duty and sacrifice, spends her afternoons in front of the TV, spewing vitriolic racial slurs.

Yet Samuel remains hopeful, even when his father leaves the family on a personal (and ultimately selfish) religious pilgrimage against "Evil" and Samuel is left to console his own Mother in her grief.

Samuel must also cope with escalating animosity between his friends and the Mexican immigrants in the neighborhood, an emotionally disturbed bully, and his half-black cousin, whose own parents have deserted him.

Though the cards seem stacked against him, Samuel remains optimistic and hopeful. In his journey of self-discovery, he gains strength through remembering the words of his father, his mother's consistent patience and forbearance, and even the company of his (surprisingly transformed) grandmother.

Viv's Take: Ultimately, The Book of Samuel is one of discovery and selfless sacrifice. It's a hard book to categorize, because although it is written from the viewpoint of teen boy, it takes place in the eighties, which will have Cool Moms reminiscing about their own childhoods when they read it. The writing is excellent, the story sometimes painful, the philosophy complex. It's a book that will keep you thinking long after you've read it.

I received an advance copy of The Book of Samuel to assist me in writing this review for today, its release date.

No comments:

Cool Moms Rule! is in full compliance of the new FTC rules concerning Bloggers. I disclose on all posts where a product was received for free and/or if there was any kind of financial compensation involved.