“Kids can get hungry sometimes while on chemo,” says five-year-old Sammy, having a good day despite the malignant tumor invading his brain. Based on true events from the 1980s, Sammy’s story is imagined by his mother and brother as if the young boy might tell it himself. The result is gripping. Told in two parts, Sammy’s account first invites us into the everyday middle-American lives of a mom and her two boys. Sammy is a sweet, good-hearted kid, even as he faces the most difficult challenges in Part 2: “Cancer Arrived.” Here Sammy talks us through hospital trips and procedures, the hardest parts as well as moments of simple joy. It is not always possible to survive such a grim diagnosis, so Sammy and his family must embrace the smaller victories from one day to the next. Finally, our young hero is given one last opportunity to find his own unique path toward triumph. Listen closely as Sammy tells us all what matters most.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite Sammy, born the day before Easter in 1985, lived with his mother and brother Gene in a small town in Kansas. He lived the normal life of a little boy – riding his big wheels, playing with trucks, and running in the backyard. He loved the homegrown vegetables from his mother’s and Slim’s gardens. Slim was the man who lived next door and was like a member of the family. Then cancer arrived, changing their lives forever. Sammy shares the ups and downs of painful, scary treatments. He and his mother spent week after week in the children’s oncology unit at the hospital, several hours from home. Sammy was observant and knew when his mother had been praying or crying. He also became aware of Jesus’ presence and His help during difficult times. In the memoir, Sammy: Hero At Age 5, written by his mother and brother, M. Schmidt and G. D. Donley, the sad journey peppered with many joyful moments is shared. One of the most intriguing aspects of this true-life story is that it is told from Sammy’s point of view. While written in the language of a five-year-old boy, the messages within his words are truly profound. The thoughts fit a little boy’s world – excitement in eating a popsicle; hoping his mother will marry again, and he will have a new father; a wish to go to Disney World. The writing is clear and concise, and the photographs add to the realistic nature of the story. M. Schmidt and G. D. Donley shared their story to help other children and families facing these kinds of diagnoses in this memoir. This is a touching and unforgettable book!
Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite The story of Sammy: Hero at Age Five told by his mother, M Schmidt, and his brother, Gene D Donley, recounts the first years of his life from his earliest days until his sad death from cancer before he reached his sixth birthday. We learn of the early days, filled with love and happiness, his close friendship with his older brother, and the family friends who supported them. They had recently moved to a new town and his mother had met and was dating a nice man. Everyday life was normal, until Sammy began to get sick – again and again. The doctors did not diagnose his condition in the early stages and some tragic mistakes were made. Through all this, Sammy describes the toys, outings and events he enjoyed, the dressing up for Thanksgiving, his new bicycle, his favourite movies, followed by yet more visits to the hospital. Sammy shows us his world from the perspective of a small, five-year-old boy who shows so much courage through all the treatments he endured for long, painful months. There are moments of pure joy when he was released from hospital to spend a few days at home, before returning for more sessions of chemotherapy and radiation. It is no spoiler to say that sadly he passed away to go, as he tells us, to live with Jesus – the cover depicts him as an angel. The true story of Sammy is a heart-breaking tale of courage, acceptance and an unshakable belief in a better life, free from pain, after death. While the facts of Sammy’s cruel illness are taken from journals and notes recorded during his treatments and hospital stays, what grips the reader is the roller-coaster feelings and the awe experienced by the reader of this child’s short life. There are both funny and sad moments, his understanding of how hard his mother fought to get him the best – sometimes at odds with the diagnosis and medicines prescribed by the doctors. His loveable personality shines through on every page and he has left a legacy of a life well lived that is an example to us all. The last few lines in the book are a complete shock. But I’m not giving anything away in this review. I am proud to award it 5 stars.