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Sam I Am by Ilene Cooper
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Sam I Am

by Ilene Cooper

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Sam Goodman's father is Jewish and his mother is Christian. His parents have not raised the children up in either religion, leaving that decision to be made by each child. As a result, the family celebrates Christmas with a "Hanukkah bush." When the dog knocks over the "bush" and breaks Mrs. Goodman's treasured ornaments, a tension rises in the family as they attempt to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas Eve with the grandmothers. This tension, and a unit on the Holocaust in school, has Sam asking questions about religion, God, and bad things that happen in the world.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Ages 8 and Up. When Sam’s dog knocks over the “Hanukkah bush” – his family’s Christmas tree – he knows that the holidays this year won’t be the same. Because his mother is Episcopalian and his father is Jewish, Sam’s family, which also includes an older sister and younger brother, have celebrated the holidays as a compromise. The absence of the Hanukkah bush this year, however, bring up dormant family tensions and cause Sam to think seriously for the first time about religion. At the same time, Sam has begun a Holocaust unit in school, gets his first girlfriend, and watches his best friend prepare for his bar mitzvah, all of which lead to reflections on God and his dual religious heritage. In this way, “Sam I Am” is slightly reminiscent of “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret.” Though it perhaps would have been better told in first person, the novel is a realistic and optimistic story.
Sam is twelve and in the seventh grade, but I believe the audience for the novel is a few years younger. Recommended for upper elementary and public library collections. ( )
  beckystandal | Dec 21, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439439671, Hardcover)

When Sam realizes his interfaith parents can't figure out how to celebrate the holidays, he turns to God for answers.

Twelve-year-old Sam Goodman knows the holidays are going to be difficult when his dog knocks over the Hanukkah bush/Christmas tree. His Jewish father and Christian mother have never quite figured out how to celebrate both holidays, and when the tree goes down, their resentments, simmering for so long, boil over. His older sister and younger brother don't seem to have any solutions for the family's predicament; his best friend Avi seems to know who he is as he prepares for his Bar Mitzvah; his secret crush, Heather, knows who she is and who she wants to associate with.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Twelve-year-old Sam, the son of a Jewish father and Christian mother, struggles to understand religion and its role in his family's life during the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays.

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