SAM I AM by Ilene Cooper


Age Range: 9 - 12
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Sam’s home life and holiday spirit are disrupted when the family dog knocks over the “Hanukkah bush,” breaking his mother’s childhood Christmas ornaments and triggering a buried religious resentment between his parents. Sam, his sister, and brother have never been given clear direction concerning religious faith or identity, as their non-practicing Jewish father, always uncomfortable with any religion his Christian wife encourages, compromises with combined holiday celebrations. This brings Sam confusion and a need to understand the reasons behind various religions and their customs. Jewish friend Avi—who is studying for his Bar Mitzvah—and a holocaust school assignment provide an eye-opening view to Judaism while the rift between his grandmothers only adds to his feelings of discomfort. Sam’s angst is drawn out and lags, even as his concerns are woven with some humor into the life of a typical pre-adolescent boy’s first experiences with girls, parties, and school issues. A realistic, unresolved ending allows parents and children of this mixed family to decide their individual religious needs, but the overall conflict overshadows the subplots that could be more intriguing. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-439-43967-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2004


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