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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Book Review: Sam's Theory by Sarah Mendivel

Title/Author Name: Sam's Theory/Sarah Mendivel

Genre: YA Fiction

Release Date: Jan 8th, 2018

Publisher: CreateSpace

Amazon: ,


Author Website:



After a final act of horrendous abuse threatens her life, fifteen-year-old Sam runs away from home and into the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. Physically and emotionally exhausted, she happens upon a mysterious tree house in the woods which shelters an old woman named Theory. Through elements of magic and sage advice, Theory takes Sam on an unforgettable healing journey. Sam begins to discover that she, too, has powers. But her process is interrupted by the nervous reality that her abusers will soon go after her younger sister, Nova, unless she can get to her first.

With the help of Sam’s friend, Dodger, and two other spirited kids from foster care, the group sets up a hidden camp in the wilderness and forms “The Orphan’s Collective.” While struggling to create their own concept of “family,” Dodger and Sam also work to navigate their budding feelings for one another. As the group formulates a plan to reach the masses of kids left behind by adults who never wanted them, they naturally begin to rewrite the fate that has seemingly already been decided for them.

Sam’s Theory is a story of immeasurable grit and re-empowerment after trauma. With embedded real-world advice, it is the recognition of our tremendous capacity as human beings to withstand darkness and summon resiliency, simply by learning how to use our voices and reconnect with those around us.

My Review:

"It's okay, Sam. I think we're safe now, I told myself."

Right from the beginning, the tone for the book is set: there's a lot that's made up, but you can read the metaphors. The metaphors have a function to perform: they make the story easy for you.
Yet, I have to admit it wasn't the smoothest of reads: you might not, for example, finish it one sitting. It also takes it some time for the plot to grow on you enough so that you don't leave it unfinished, but if you keep at it, the story is a strong one.

The theme that the novel deals with a sensitive ones, trauma and its aftermath is basically a time of more questions than answers, which is why it becomes hard to obtain clarity. You want to read a book, now the sub-plots. At the most, you want the mystery to be solvable. But unlike your cliched detective mysteries, the injuries we are dealing with are hard to identify. So it only makes sense that identifying the plot turns and anticipating them is tricky too.

If you go by the face value, the plot is very fictional, very absurd: Sam meets a woman names Theory. Our protagonist has suffered abuse of all kinds, and is now on a rescue mission of sorts to save her sister from the atrocity. There are many other layers to the plot as well: and all get unravelled in due time.

But if I were to point out that one thing that I loved he most about the novel, it has to be the subtle inclusion of positive messages in favour of mental health and support. Consider these:

 "Asking for help doesn't make you weak; it makes you an army."
"We are all made up of the same ingredients, you see, which is ultimately what creates a shared human experience"
"Remember that a trait is neutral until we give it power. When we give it power, we can either use the trait to become a superhero, a common person, or a villain." 

The protagonist is also my favourite character, perhaps because we walk with her through the plot, and feel the vulnerability of her thoughts. Not to mention, she is also a relatable person as far as coping mechanisms go:
"The presence of books soothes me and were often my secret escape from the violent alternative at home." 
Or when she talks about how she tried to fit in,
"Flaunting my repertoire of reads would have likely torn the cool card I barely held onto right out of my hand."
So I believe the question to ask is: what colour were you eyes when you were at chapter 1 versus the last? Or was it reflecting light from being too moist?

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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

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