- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Putnam Adult (October 14, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399149333
- ISBN-13: 978-0399149337
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,463,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sam: The Boy Behind the Mask Hardcover – October 14, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Veteran journalist Hallman expands his Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of Sam Lightner, a boy born with a rare, disfiguring growth on his face, into a heart-breaking saga of the emotional, physical and psychological battles Sam and his family have fought since his birth in 1985. The growth, a "tangle of lymphatic capillary cells" beneath the skin of Sam's face, necessitates two surgeries before Sam is even a week old; when the boy nearly dies after a 1989 operation, his parents decide that surgery to remove the mass is out of the question until Sam himself demands it. Hallman, a reporter at the Portland Oregonian who first met Sam in 1999, tenderly chronicles Sam's childhood and early adolescence: his difficulties fitting in at school, his inability to participate in activities with other children, his yearning to lead a more normal life. In 2000, Sam undergoes surgery in Boston. Initially it seems successful, but back in Portland, Sam slips into a coma. His pediatric neurosurgeon and his parents are the only ones who believe he will live; eventually Sam proves them right. Hallman's writing is crisp and affecting, though also sometimes overly dramatic and simplistic. He portrays Sam's doctors, for example, as wholly altruistic beings (a portrayal not entirely unjustified) and glosses over some of the more personal, and painful, emotions his parents must have felt watching their child suffer. Still, this is a deeply moving story, an against-all-odds tale of bravery and faith. 8 pages b&w photos
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
From a Pulitzer Prize-winning series by Oregonian journalist Hallman: the story of a teenaged boy who survives a 13-hour operation for a facial deformity, then pulls through a subsequent coma with the help of an against-all-the-odds woman doctor.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sam was born with a large vascular tumor on the left side of his place that progressively compromised not only his appearance but also his basic vital functions including breathing and eating. It took a few courageous physicians to treat his condition. Drs. Marler and Mulleken at Boston Children's and Dr. Wehby in Portland are a few of the doctors that enabled Sam to have a fighting chance. What makes this book such a compelling read is not only the heroics of Sam's physicians but the courage of Sam and his family. Hallman delivers Sam's struggle to fit in with such an emotional impact that I had to quit reading the book in parts to take a breather. Sam's family is portrayed as truly remarkable, and their handling of Sam's problems is a lesson to be learned by all.
Unfortunately, the book leaves us hanging (not the author's fault) because Sam's story is not finished. He most likely will undergo further plastic surgery to shape his face, and he may undergo additional operations if his tumor returns.
Hopefully, this book can teach us a little about how to give respect to those like Sam who need support rather than the stares we often give them.
This is also a story marvelously told by Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Hallman. His style is as clear as glass. He has obviously put in long hours to gain the trust of the Lightners and the medical professionals, and has managed to probe beneath the surface to recreate their hopes, doubts and fears at critical moments during the story. Yet, except for the afterword, Hallman never writes in the first person. Throughout this narrative, he is the unseen observer, who has the grace, humility and good sense to let the story unfold on its own terms.
The things Sam has faced in his short life make any difficulties you and I face seem very trivial. He is a true life hero, as are the amazing doctors who have helped him alaong the way. If this story does not touch you in a deep and meaningful way, I don't know what will.
Tom Hallman has done an excellent job of putting the reader in Sam's life where we can experience a little of what he faces every day. Yet, he keeps the book moving so we don't get too bogged down in the details. This is positively a book you will want to, and can, read cover to cover in a short period of time.