The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell: A Novel

Written by:
Robert Dugoni
Narrated by:
Robert Dugoni

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2018
11 hours 43 minutes
Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s coming-of-age story is, according to Booklist, “a novel that, if it doesn’t cross entirely over into John Irving territory, certainly nestles in close to the border.”

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 who sent Ernie Cantwell, the only African American kid in his class, to be the friend he so desperately needed. And that it was God’s idea for Mickie Kennedy to storm into Our Lady of Mercy like a tornado, uprooting every rule Sam had been taught about boys and girls.

Forty years later, Sam, a small-town eye doctor, is no longer certain anything was by design—especially not the tragedy that caused him to turn his back on his friends, his hometown, and the life he’d always known. Running from the pain, eyes closed, served little purpose. Now, as he looks back on his life, Sam embarks on a journey that will take him halfway around the world. This time, his eyes are wide open—bringing into clear view what changed him, defined him, and made him so afraid, until he can finally see what truly matters.

Winner of Suspense Magazine’s Crimson Scribe Award.
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Pia T.

I love this book. It made me laugh and it made me cry. I can relate to everything in this book! The author did a great job narrating the story.

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Cyn K.

I tried. I really did. I kept thinking the story was going to deepen, that the stakes would rise, making my heart race. The title word " extraordinary" made me want to hang on. But halfway through I abandoned the book out of sheer boredom and the tedium of the storytelling. For the life of me, I can't figure out how this writer sells so many books. I don't want to berate him, because he's accomplished much that I haven't, but the prose is littered with cliches and never rises above a plodding storyline that, yes, outlines the literal and figurative bumps and bruises of Sam's life but that frankly, outside of his 'condition' isn't all that extraordinary in my opinion. He's bullied. He's ostracized. His parents are perfect. His friends have struggles. Nothing unlike what many of us experience in our lives. The story never rose above a level of plainness that in the end I could not rise above. Dugoni is not a literary writer, and I think that's what I'm more drawn to. Plus, as a reader, he doesn't enunciate very well and that wore on me too. Sorry to be such a downer. If every scene wasn't separated by a numeral it would help it not seem so episodic (imho).

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Karen Z.

Delightful book. Not what I expected but I am close to the age of the main character and identified with many of the events and truly enjoyed his journey. Love this author and his narration was so fun to listen to.

Very good book, especially poignant after listening to the author's afterword. Author did a nice job reading.

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Cindy D.

Love this book

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Latoya L.

This book kept showing up as a must-read book, but i kept passing it over. Well, I'm glad I finally did because this book was worth it and more. Sam Hill most definitely had an extraordinary life. Sam was born with red pupils( ocular albinism) and was called Devil Boy and Hell because of it. It didn't help that he went to a Catholic school where he experienced the most hatred and discrimination. You'd think the majority of it came from the kids, but the adults were the worst. You know the saying the hypocrites are in the church, the ones who claim to be holier than thou. Sam's mother was a devout Christian who fought tooth and nail for her son's education and well-being. Sam met Ernie Cantwell, the only Black boy who became his best friend and right-hand man. Then comes Mickie (Makayka) Kennedy, who shakes up Sam's world for the better. Mickie and Ernie were the best things that ever happened to Sam. They all grew up together, through trials and tribulations, making their friendships and bonds stronger. David Bateman is the meanest bully... even carried his Shenanigans into adulthood. David became a police officer and wrecked his havoc on his own daughter and ex-wife. Sam grew up helping others around the world. Sam gave his parents the life they wanted even til their last breath. On his journey around the world, Sam found a child with wyes just like his. After that day, he no longer wore his contacts and embraced his individuality of his red eyes. Sam saw what truly matters through love, loss, and his work. Now, I won't bypass any more recommended books because this one was awesome, hands down! #Book2of2023 #Bookworm #Whatsnext

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Marilyn G.

I throughly enjoyed this book. Great story of family, love and overcoming obstacles.

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Crista N.

Very enjoyable

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Lina V.

Great story, full of life

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Gráinne M.

A lot of cliche and repetition, mediocre writing at best.

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Brooke B


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Wendy L.

This was a great story narrated by the author who did a great job. I’m so glad that I read it. A job well done! It was a very quick listen.

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I really enjoyed it. Some parts seemed too good to be true, but overall a really good read.

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This is a cute story, but it's predictable and hokey. There's nothing extraordinary about it. The narrator is very good.

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Nancy J T.

The writing, I felt was a bit contrived. The author most definitely should NOT have narrated his own book. Poor narrating voice, and timbre. I would not recommend this book.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I was glad I chose to read it. I think author really got the main character nailed down! Feel like author must of had personal experiences to draw on. Worth your time.

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Laura Kammerer

Great book! Glad I read it.

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Mary F.

Couldn’t stop listening! Amazing

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Nicole M.

Wonderful character development and enjoyable story.

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Loved the book and loved the narrator.

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Jeffrey R.

Enjoyed the story

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Teresa C.

I loved this book. The characters were very likeable.

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