Author: C.B. Murphy

Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

ISBN:  978-0-87839-365-7

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Jeff and Elissa  are hippies who marry,  have kids and then drift into deep philosophical differences. Not only does that destroy the myth of “happily ever after” but  causes their oldest son a great deal of confusion and distress. Sam I Am (yes named for the Dr. Seuss character) is the precociously ironic narrator and he is indeed a smart, funny and likeable fifteen year old boy. His mother who requires her sons to call her Elissa (and to call their Dad by his first name) is rigidly correct, politically, philosophically and dietically.  She never veers off track. Jeff is endearingly as confused as his son and over time the reader is allowed hints as to the childhood experiences that led him to his various peregrinations in life. One hopes he will someday confide in his son and the ending leaves that open as a very real possibility.

The plot device that brings the family and community conflicts to the fore is a hunt planned to cull deer from a large herd in the large city park.  Jeff already works for the agency in charge of wildlife management and Elisa emerges as a leader in the ensuing protest. Various members of the community along with (or sometimes against)  their respective clubs and organizations come down on one side or the other of the issue, some predictably, some surprisingly. Of course the high school kids are involved as well so Sam not only feels torn apart between his parents but among his friends as well. Throw in some sexual awakening stuff and you have one very anxious fifteen year old boy.  Sam’s own version of a Lakota vision quest clears the way for him to seek his own path.

With the exception of Elissa  who remains rigidly on track throughout, the author offers a cast of  delightfully incongruous characters (Hermes Rosen for instance) who surprise the reader as they surprise Sam.  The running satire is punctuated with some truly sad and traumatic events which lend it a more serious weight and remind us all to think carefully before we act (or react) to events we find morally reprehensible.

A back cover blurb compares Sam to Holden Caulfield had he grown up in an age of environmental politics and that does seem a spot on comparison. If you enjoyed Holden Caulfield’’s narrative back in the day, you’ll get a kick out of Sam.

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