Friday, March 18, 2011

Review : The Samaritan by Fred Venturini

" To age is to embrace a slow hurt inside and out, to collect scars like rings on a tree, dark and weathered and sometimes only visible if someone cuts deep enough. Scars keep the past just close enough to touch, but healing is forgetting. Healing invites another cut. Healing is the tide that smoothes away our line in the sand. For life to begin, the damage must be permanent. "

- Dale Sampson, The Samaritan

Dale Sampson is a nobody. A small town geek who lives in the shadow of his best friend, the high school baseball star, it takes him years to even gather the courage to actually talk to a girl. It doesn't go well. Then, just when he thinks there's a glimmer of hope for his love life, he loses everything.

When The Samaritan was offered to me for review,   I was intrigued by  the unique ability the character possessed (more on that later). This book took my be surprise it surpassed my expectations!
From the six grade Dale has lived a life of isolation. Smart enough to be at the top of his class but awkward enough to attract few social interactions , especially with girls. When Dale willingly becomes the victim in a painful game with a group of girls, it brings him to the attention Mack Tucker.

Dale immediately expects a beat down after bumping in to Mack instead a unique friendship develops between the two. Mack is everything Dale isn't: popular, athletic and despite his rough bluntness a success with girls.

It is Mack's attempt to get a date for dale that brings the twins Regina and Raeanna that opens up a new world to Dale. A world of intense Horror and pain.

The narrative of this book really draws you in. I remember thinking it would be a "quick read" since it was only 201 pages. Instead it took me several days to finish. Venturini's writing moves at the pace and intensity of  the character dale himself. we can picture the small town Dale lives in, his awkward social interactions, the stillness and desperation in his home with a mother struggling to provide for him and what it costs her. We are so drawn into Dale's mindset that when an unthinkable violent attack happens to the girl he loves it shatters the narrative like hard brittle glass. Mack and Dale are also injured . Dale's greatest loss reveals his regenerative properties. Three fingertips that had been shot off regrow.


Dale doesn't really know what to do with this power. He experiments with it , considers selling parts for cash. Nothing of strong intent or focus. For years he has been living a life of isolation and numbness. It isn't until he sees Raeanna, Regina's twin sister in a Walmart checkout line that he begins to live again. Raeanna is an abused wife and Dale concocts a plan to "rescue" her. The only hitch in his plans? She doesn't want to be rescued. Dale cant let go of his fantasy though, he comes up with an idea for a new reality show: The Samaritan where he will reveal his talent and give pieces of him self away. Pounds of flesh that he hopes  will get Raeanna's attention, that will inspire her to call him, and let herself be saved. Dale also reunites with his old friend Mack who readily steps into the Hollywood limelight and becomes a part of the Samaritan team.
There are many twists and surprises in this novel but threaded throughout are delicate and painful observations on life and love. Though he may be an outcast socially their is a depth to Dale that he himself is not truly aware of. His actions for acceptance and love and acceptance border on desperation and despite rejection he gives and gives.


This novel still resounds with me, I found myself fully immersed in Dale's world and could not conceive how his story would end. The resolution is sweet, redemptive and heartbreaking and extremely enjoyable. I highly recommend this book! Let it pleasantly take you over, do not flinch from the hurt and pain , there is so much of Dale in all of us, I enjoyed his journey


Thanks to Blank Slate Press For the opportunity to Review this book.



Angelique said...

I hadn't heard of this one before, but it sounds really interesting! I must check it out, thanks for the heads up Kai!

Fred Venturini said...

Thank you for the thoughtful review. I'm certainly glad you enjoyed it. I'll monitor this post for comments and if anyone would like to discuss the book or anything, I'm game.

Thanks again,


LisaMM said...

"Do not flinch from the hurt and pain" Love it! Thanks for the review and for being on the tour! I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

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