Wednesday, September 23, 2009

THE BOOK OF SAMUEL by Erik Raschke

Samuel Gerard and his friends Jonathon and Jesse are out to get the Mexicans. According to the three friends, the Mexicans have stolen their bikes for the last time. It's time for revenge.

At least that's what used to occupy Samuel's thoughts. Now things are looking a bit different. When your father quits his teaching job and starts living in a tent in the backyard and reading nothing but the Bible, things don't look quite the way they used to. Samuel's father is having what might be termed a "mid-life crisis." He has turned to the word of God to explain and justify his every move.

Samuel tries to stay connected with his father by spending time in the tent and listening to him read from the Bible, but eventually he realizes the man has to deal with this crisis on his own. It's not long until his father packs up and takes off leaving Samuel alone with his hard-working mother.

Samuel and his two friends are often the victims of taunting from the kids at school. They are fairly good students but not particularly athletic or popular which makes them targets for the bullies. Samuel in particular, with his discount store clothing and his strange vegetarian lunches, makes him an easy pick for teasing. One especially scary tormenter is Saula, an odd and incredibly strong girl with an unexplained hatred for Samuel.

To make matters worse, Samuel's mother offers to have his cousin David come to live with them. Unfortunate family circumstances have made David a hot-tempered and volatile individual. Now Samuel has a bully to deal with right under his own roof.

THE BOOK OF SAMUEL follows a 12 year old boy through the turmoil of family problems and the often too typical pressures of being different. There are moments of humor, moments of frustration, moments of sadness, and even moments of horror as Samuel negotiates his way through life. The book is at times a challenging read, but readers will find meaning and satisfaction as they get to know and understand this determined young man.

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