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Bookworm In Your Ear: Know Thyself

 


The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni 

Samuel Hill is born with ocular albinism, and his red eyes make for quite an impression, so that when he enters school, he’s immediately marked as someone different, called Devil Boy and Sam Hell. There are two narratives intersecting here, one having to do with Sam growing up, and the second, forty years on, with Sam facing ghosts from his past. Given the oddball aspect of our title character, and the Dugoni sense of humor and writing style, it will come as no surprise for me to comment that this reads like early John Irving, mixed with Charles Dickens. It is a page turner, as the plot continuously pulls surprises from under our feet, with a memorable cast of supporting characters. You’ll especially love the tomboyish young girl who plays such a role in Sam’s life.


 

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Iweala is the Nigerian author of Beasts of No Nation, the novel that was adapted into a Netflix film starring Idris Elba. Here, he shifts gears and surprises us with a very intimate story. Niru is the adolescent son of Nigerians who have emigrated to Washington D.C., the father an academic, and the mother a doctor. A senior in high school and on the track team, Niru’s best friend is Meredith, something of a rebel girl whose parents often leave for extended periods leaving her home alone at their suburban home. When Niru reveals that he’s gay to Meredith, she has him on apps that will help him explore this facet of his personality. With very conservative parents, despite this day and age, it isn’t long before volatile situations and even violence arrive on the scene. Gripping and tragic.