A funny, heartbreaking story with all the sentiment and nostalgia of Stand By Me as 12-year-old Samuel Francis Gerard must navigate the excitement and disappointment of adolescence
Samuel Gerard strives to be like every other 12 year-old: he hangs out at the bike jumps or at the mall with his friends, finds creative ways to avoid schoolwork, and repeatedly asks his parents questions that he knows have no answer. But when his dad embarks on a religious quest to “save the world,” Samuel’s own live is violently upended.Literally starting the day after his father leaves, Samuel finds himself on a dizzying, often humorous series of adventures, from being covered in leeches to accidentally blowing up his friends garage, from cheering up his distraught mother to supervising his feisty, racist grandma, and from making out with the most popular girl in school to a horrific, lifechanging fight with the toughest girl in school. And as Samuel tries to sort out the world around him, he begins his own journey of self understanding, taking him squarely into the heart of his Denver neighborhood which is already threatening to burst from changing social values and mass immigration. While The Book of Samuel tells a gripping tale about the tumultuousness of being a teenager at the crossroads of religion and community, family and friends, newfound love and deep-seated hatred, the novel is ultimately a story about the joys and pains of a boy growing up in middle-America.
My Review: Samuel and his friends don't like the Mexican kids. They're always harassing them and one day the Mexican kids stole their expensive bikes. Jonathon and Jesse had enough and they are out for revenge. Samuels dad spends morning, noon and night reading and studying the Bible. He starts to think that he can save the world and one day, he leaves the family to do just that.
Samuel's mom is depressed and cries all the time, his Grandma hates everyone. Samuel's friends decide they need to do something about the Mexicans so they order a kit in the mail and it comes with instructions on how to create a pipe bomb.
Grandma has medical problems and ends up in a nursing home for round the clock care and no one knows where his Dad is. His mom decides to move her sisters troubled son in with them and Samuel problems escalate with a girl at school and his whole world is upside down.
I felt like I wanted to give Samuel a huge hug! Sometimes funny and heartbreaking and the end was a surprise. Definitely recommend it.
“Let’s go to Albertsons and eat bulk gummy bears,” Jonathon suggested.
This was a fine idea, but as we pulled our legs out of the gulch, both Jesse and I almost fainted. We had leeches on our calves.
“Don’t tear them off,” Jonathon said as we started panicking. “You have to use salt.”
We rode to Jesse’s house with the leeches on our legs. I almost started crying because I knew they were sucking all the blood from my body.
“Slow down,” Jonathon yelled. “They’re bouncing all over the place.”
When we got to Jesse’s house, his mom threw wine on the leeches, but that didn’t do anything except stain the carpet. Jesse and I shuffled into the bathtub and Jonathon used a whole carton of Morton’s salt."
About the Author:
Erik Raschke was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. He received his B.A. in English from Earlham College and his M.A. in creative writing from the City College of New York. He studied Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and, later, served in Armenia as a Peace Corps volunteer. A certified teacher with the New York Board of Education, he taught for many years in Washington Heights, in upper Manhattan, as an English teacher. He currently lives with his family in Amsterdam. His short stories and have appeared in Ararat, Guernica, Reading Room, Chelsea, Promethian, 5-trope, Mr. Bellers Neighborhood and various other publications. The Book of Samuel is his first novel.
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