Sammy's Hill

Sammy's Hill

by Kristin Gore


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401359713
Publisher: Miramax Books
Publication date: 06/15/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Kristin Gore was born in 1977 and graduated from Harvard, where she wrote for the Harvard Lampoon. She has written for several television shows, including Saturday Night Live and Futurama. Her previous novel, Sammy's Hill, will be a Columbia Pictures feature film. She is currently at work on the screenplay. She resides in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt

Sammy's Hill

By Kristin Gore


Copyright © 2004 Kristin Gore
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4013-5219-7

Chapter One

Early to Rise

The party really started to rock when Willie Nelson and Queen Nefertiti began pouring shots. I downed one and felt my stomach immediately replaced by a large liquor bonfire that spread through my chest, its flames licking up the inside of my throat. Willie leaned over and whispered that Winnie the Pooh had the hots for me. No way! I loved that guy! As I watched Winnie get down on the dance floor, throwing smoldering Pooh Bear glances in my direction, I all of a sudden felt myself floating. Flapping my arms, I rose higher and higher. Soon I was at thirty thousand feet, and a bit chilly. I plucked the edge of the cloud nearest me and draped it over my shoulders, fashioning a cumulus-nimbus pashmina. Feeling quite stylish, I surveyed the landscape below. I checked in with the mountain ranges, the vast oceans, the tiny cities, the-

"... exceptionally long lines at the gas station. Congressman Francis, do you expect some sort of bailout package for Exxon?"

NPR's Morning Edition crackled into my consciousness to remind me that I was not a party-hopping sorceress but rather a Capitol Hill staffer who only had twenty minutes to get to work.

Huh. If I didn't do shots with Willie Nelson and Nefertiti, then why did I feel hungover?A brief glance into the kitchen brought it all back. Right, the bottle of wine from the ninety-nine-cent store. It had seemed like such a good deal at the time.

Okay, twenty minutes. Considering I was supposed to meditate for thirty, I'd have to postpone that until later. I'd also have to delay the fifteen-minute stomach crunch set, the do-it-yourself manicure, and the new dictionary word for the day. I promised myself I'd get to all that, but I knew I was lying. In reality, I would crawl home after working late, feeling too exhausted to do anything but maybe test out some ninety-nine-cent tequila.

But it was way too early in the day for such cynicism. As my dad always said, anything and everything is possible in the morning.

I'd never been a morning person.

I checked the clock. Seventeen minutes and counting. As I fed Shackleton and began scavenging for clean clothes, it occurred to me how difficult these simple tasks would be without my right arm. What would I do if I suddenly lost it in some sort of escalator or escaped hungry lion accident? People laughed, but I lived only a few short miles from the zoo. So I took a moment to do what I always did whenever these neuroses attacked. I reached for a sling from my pile of medical supplies, fashioned it around my right arm, and continued my routine with this new handicap, confident that I would be the one with the last laugh when I was so ludicrously prepared for life without my right arm.

"Amazing," they'd all say, "can you stand how quickly she's adapted? Why, she's just as capable as she was before! Maybe even more so!"

And thanks to my brilliant foresight, it would be true. I'd just nod and smile and continue my life as a well-prepared, one-armed genius.

I snapped myself out of this daydream to concentrate on the extraordinarily difficult task of opening a container of yogurt with just my left hand. And then, as I gathered up my work folders, cleverly using my foot to lift my briefcase up to the table, I caught sight of Shackleton's mossy gills. Oh no. The mossy gill death sentence.

I had managed to inadvertently murder eight Japanese fighting fish over the course of the previous eleven months. I had never meant to kill them. In fact, I did absolutely everything by the book, but they still died. Mr. Lee, the pet store owner, assured me I hadn't done anything wrong. I secretly suspected he was keeping something from me-some critical piece of caretaking instruction or water-purifying product that would keep my fish alive-because whatever it was, by withholding it, he ensured my lucrative repeat business. He played the helpful counselor, however, and, according to him, the Japanese fighting fish sometimes just lost their will to live after a simple change in surroundings and performed a sort of fish-style hari-kari. Three of them wasted away, two of them became grossly bloated, and Jacques, Moby, and Ballard had all developed mossy gill disease.

I looked sadly at nay ninth and longest-living fish, the six-month trouper whom I thought had changed my luck. Shackleton, so named for miraculously surviving an unfortunate wintertime power outage that had turned his bowl into an icebound wasteland, stared bravely back. Amazingly, he had lived through being thawed out. I had assumed this proved he was some sort of fish messiah, a powerful spiritual leader of the marine realm. But 1 should have known that even the mightiest of fish couldn't survive for long in my murderous clutches.

I was beginning to obsess about the implications for my fitness as a future mother if I couldn't even keep a tiny little fish alive for more than a few months when I caught sight of the clock. Twelve minutes. I quickly grabbed some magazines for the commute and rushed out the door, barely remembering to shed my sling along the way.

The good thing about working for a senator I respected was that I felt like I had a chance to make a positive difference in the world every day. The bad thing was that I worked so hard I didn't have time to notice things like the fact that I was wearing two different shoes until I was already on the Red Line, rapidly approaching my stop.

And the pathetic thing was, I probably wouldn't have noticed at all if I hadn't caught the snickering glances of two perfectly groomed Senate pages and looked down to let myself in on the joke.

In my opinion, it's not totally unreasonable to mix up two pairs of shoes of the same style but slightly different colors, like a navy blue and black loafer. Embarrassing, sure, but understandable, particularly if one didn't have a right arm to turn on the closet light while one rooted around with one's healthy limb. But a tan sandal and a bright red sneaker? I was fairly certain the only people capable of that would have to be somewhat mentally handicapped. Apparently, they could also be me.

I decided to act like I knew exactly what I was doing, and shot a pitying glance at the two page-babes-a glance that communicated how sorry I felt for them that though they were immaculately coiffed, they clearly hadn't heard about the newest look to hit the runways. And I, I who read the Economist for fun on the way to work because, yes, I was that smart and genuinely interested in what it had to say, also happened to be on the cutting edge of fashion. How sad for them, my demeanor purred. How fabulous to be me.

With that work done, I exited the Metro at Union Station and made my way down First Street to the Russell Senate Building, holding my head high and silently cursing the fact that I didn't have time to run into a shoestore and buy anything that made me look less like a clueless fool. But, I mused, even if I did have the time, there are some things money just can't buy.

Janet, the ultracompetent, middle-aged personal aide to the senator, glanced up as I entered the office. While talking on her phone headset, stapling a stack of briefs with one hand, and making a scheduling change with the other (difficult multitasking even with two perfectly intact arms), she also managed to smile at me.

"RG'll be here in five. He needs the committee brief right away," she said, in her pleasant but no-bullshit tone.

"It's all ready, no problem." I smiled back, trying to project confidence and professionalism before my first cup of coffee, which was no small feat.

RG was office shorthand for Robert Gary, junior senator from my home state of Ohio. The committee brief was for the Senate's Health Care Committee hearing on prescription drug plans for the elderly, scheduled to begin that morning. And I was responsible for the brief, along with shepherding the constituent slated to testify, because I was a domestic policy adviser to Senator Gary.

The fact that I had managed to become a health care analyst for a United States senator at the age of twenty-six still surprised me, and I lived in fear that someone would realize how ridiculous it was to have given me this sort of authority and fire me on the spot.

Born and raised in Ohio, I owed my passion for government to my mother, a political science professor for whom fostering interest in public service came naturally. From the beginning, I'd been an eager and enthusiastic student. And perhaps most significantly, my mom's only full-time one.

Under her tutelage, I'd learned early that participation was paramount and that change could be just an effort away. Together, we'd drawn up campaign posters for local candidates, passed out voter registration forms, and canvassed neighborhoods for initiatives in which we'd believed. In the mornings before school, she'd helped me read the newspaper and answered my questions. In the evenings, she'd edited my letters to the president for spelling mistakes. It had never occurred to me that all this might make me an enormous dork. I'd loved it.

I'd begun taking up my own causes in grade school. I'd tried to protect the rainforests, adopt litter-free highways, stop animal testing, ship school supplies to impoverished children in Haiti, and generally save the world one bake sale at a time.

In high school, I'd become obsessed with issues of free speech, railing against censorship and challenging the school newspaper to rise above it. I'd written passionate papers about how freedom and rebellion represented the beating heart of democracy. I hadn't been above invoking these themes to denounce the tyranny of dress codes and curfews.

I'd run for class office here and there, but mainly devoted myself to general activism. It hadn't been until college, at the University of Cincinnati, that I'd developed a more specialized interest in health care policy. This interest had grown out of a particularly intriguing freshman seminar on communicable diseases-a seminar which had provoked both a passion for health care reform as well as a terror of the essential vulnerability and filthiness of the human body. From that seminar forward, a sore throat was never just a sore throat-it was much more likely the beginning stages of Ebola, rickets, or wasting disease. Since then, I had dedicated myself to doing the little I could to prepare for the disasters that were sure to befall my relatively defenseless body.

I had also devoted myself to studying the complexity and flaws of the country's health care system. Its inadequacies and inequalities had offended and embarrassed me. I hadn't been able to understand how the government could continue to allow nearly forty-four million Americans, many of them children, to go uninsured. I'd been horrified to discover the price gouging that went on, and the toll that it took on lower- and middle-class families. And as my mother's daughter, I had resolved to do what I could to bring about change.

While slaving away on my thesis, I had landed interviews with Ohio's nineteen members of the House of Representatives and both senators. Senator Robert Gary had impressed me as head and shoulders above the rest with his thorough grasp of health care issues and his long-term vision. As he'd answered my questions and talked about his plans for reform, I'd felt a mixture of awe and inspiration.

I'd sent Gary a copy of my thesis and immediately volunteered for his reelection campaign upon graduation. I'd been flattered and terrified when he'd remembered me, complimented my thesis, and asked me to work with his domestic policy team specifically on health care issues. I'd thrown myself into it, written a couple of noteworthy briefs, and after Gary had won in a landslide, been asked to join his D.C. staff. Which was how I'd suddenly found myself in a position of real influence. Scary, but true.

I barely had time to sync my BlackBerry and scan e-mails before Janet was buzzing my line.

"RG's here. He added a meet-and-greet with the teachers' union, so you only have ten minutes right now to get him up to speed for the hearing. Go."

As I rushed to his office, I wondered if I would be able to brief him in only ten minutes if I didn't have a tongue. I could probably come close if I was equipped with markers and flip charts and more advanced charade talents than I currently possessed, but it would be tough. I'd been told I had very expressive eyes though, so as long as I could use those ... oooh, no tongue and blind, now that would probably stump me. How exactly would I go about-

"Can I help you with something?"

Senator Gary's sarcastic impatience put an end to my planning by alerting me that I must have been standing in his office looking like an entranced idiot for a good ten seconds. After a quick calculation I decided to pass on explaining that I had been musing a blind, tongueless existence and just get straight to the briefing.

"I'm here to prep you for the hearing, sir. Is now an okay time?"

He just looked at me for a moment and then nodded. He was tired, I could tell. He was a good-looking man and I thought the gray flecks in his dark hair made him look distinguished, but the deepening creases in his forehead and the bags under his eyes just made him look ragged. He was a workaholic with one-year-old twins at home, so that accounted for some of it, but I got the sense he was worrying about something else in the deep, portentous way he often had about him.

His blue suit, white shirt, red tie uniform was crisp and pressed as usual, but I noticed he had a yellowish stain on the collar of his shirt. I promised myself I'd gently bring that up after we got through the briefing. He'd be grateful without being embarrassed. I knew just the tone I'd use.

"Okay, sir, your committee today will be hearing testimony from Alfred Jackman, a constituent from your old congressional district. He's eighty-three and suffers from a kidney condition that leaves him in intense pain much of the time. The prescription drugs he needs are unaffordable on his budget of Social Security and pension payments, so he makes regular trips to Canada to obtain the cheaper generic versions that should be available to him here."

"And Medicare in its current incarnation doesn't cover what he needs, correct?"

"It doesn't come close, sir."

"And the price controls in Canada allow him to save what, forty to sixty percent?"

"He shaves fifty-five percent off his drug costs on average, sir."

RG was nodding and I felt lucky all over again that I worked for someone who actually understood the policy issues he was being briefed on. One of the major shocks of my twenty-six years was the discovery that a distressing number of the people holding the reins of our democracy were glad-handing lightweights. Not RG, though. He actually cared.


Excerpted from Sammy's Hill by Kristin Gore Copyright © 2004 by Kristin Gore. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sammy's Hill 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
kshaffar on LibraryThing 7 months ago
While this was a fun read, I found it almost completely implausible. How could anyone like this girl. It was amazing to me that she managed to get out of bed in the morning, let alone be successful. My suspension of belief is not strong enough, I guess.
Darla on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Samantha Joyce is a health-care advisor to Senator Robert Gary. She's also a bit of a hypochondriac and fish-killer. When she meets Aaron Driver, speechwriter to Senator Bramen (in the same party as Gary, but slimier), it looks like he might be The One.There are a few problems along the road to true love--a minor scandal caused when Sammy Blackberries an explicit message to Aaron that ends up accidentally going to a couple hundred of Aaron's friends and associates--and Sammy's increasing unease with Aaron working for the backstabbing Senator Bramen.Then the presidential race begins, and Bramen's the frontrunner. Gary ends up endorsing Bramen's chief rival and becomes the vice presidential candidate.There are a lot of details about life in politics--from the give-and-take required to get a bill introduced, much less passed, to the grueling campaign trail. The frustrations of an idealistic newcomer are evident, but leavened with humor.Sammy herself is a wonderfully vivid character. She's quite Bridget-Jones-ish in her distraction and self-deprecation, but she's herself, too. She's just short of being over-the-top--a character I could believe in and root for.The romantic relationships are very realistic, but that was my only quibble: not that it took Sammy a while to find The One--I liked that--but that the development of the relationship with The One didn't get more emphasis. Not that it was necessary--just that I'd expected it.
Monkeypats on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I found Sammy to be quirky and very funny. As someone who lives in DC and has tons of friends who work on the Hill, the book was not only entertaining but also true to form. The interactions were very realistic - blackberry mishaps, security guards, roommates, and a blonde's attempt to be taken seriously in DC politics. For someone less connected with the lifestyle, I could see where it would be less entertaining or seem less realistic, but for anyone who knows the district and the staffers - it proves a light but entertaining and realistic story!
lookitisheef on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I've had this book for a long time and never got around to reading it, thinking that it was more of a political drama. Though the book does discuss politics and campaigns, it is kept pretty light, and focuses more on the life and times of a young woman, professionally and personally. If you like chick-lit, but don't necessarily find the hapless/clueless girls (a la Bergdorf Blondes) to be your cup of tea, this book might be a little more to your liking.
bookwormteri on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Ally McBeal meets D.C. staffers. It was cute, but a little long for what it was.
LhLibrarian on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A good laugh - nice light hearted read.
SmithSJ01 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
An interesting read but not enough to warrant 4 stars. The beginning was just too busy. Too much was happening and not enough was given to get to know Samantha Joyce. This eventually petered out and the reader was given the chance to become involved in her life. Like the other reviewer I've no idea how accurate it is politically but it was fun to read; making sense of the news we see on the television. It has certain predictable elements to it - which romance novel doesn't? At times the politics takes the forefront at others it's her friendship and personal life. I'm not the balance was quite right though. This is worth a read when travelling somewhere or to take on holiday. It takes a mild amount of concentration if you want to really get to grips with the political sub-story. Think 'Ugly Betty' style character and you've got the idea about Sammy. She doesn't fit in, she's a bit of a clutz but with her heart in the right place. Take a bit of 'Erin Brockovich' and you've got the right kind of insight into this leading lady. Completely driven on her choice of career she has a supportive network of friends and family. The novel is about her life rather than the grittiness of American politics. Sometimes the Americanisms can be difficult if you don't know the culture but other than that it's a good read once you get passed the first 30 or so pages and become comfortable with the writing style. I don't if it is just a touch too long and could have been shorted at the beginning half but then I guess Sammy's relationships could not be explored in as much detail.
alanna1122 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
i really enjoyed this book. I think alot of people will compare it to Bridget Jones, and there is good reason for that - it taps into the same brand of silly slapstick embarassing moments mixed with career and dating drama. I enjoyed the character of Sammy and thought though somewhat over the top there was a lot about her that I identified with.I thought having her work on the hill made for a novel and interesting setting for a book of this kind. recommended!
mikeandmelinda on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A young Senate staffer tries to juggle the problems in her personal life while also helping work on important legislation and campaigns. The story was a little too chick lit for my taste, but the political drama made up for it.
abuannie on LibraryThing 7 months ago
So she could grow into being a good writer. But all the "bits" -- daydreaming, hypochondria, etc. are far too numerous and distracting. But I liked the actual story.
WittyreaderLI on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Political intrigue meets Chick Lit. This extremely light read contains a bright, memorable main character with a very predictable plot.
debavp on LibraryThing 7 months ago
For a first book it was excellent. Funny, showed a tiny bit of what it might be like "inside" politics. You cant help but chuckle through a few passages wondering what Tipper might have said when she read it. Definitely looking foorward to her next book!
THHernandez More than 1 year ago
This debut novel by the middle daughter of former Vice President, Al Gore, is a hilarious, witty, page-turning comedy with a sliver of politics running through it. Twenty-six year old Samantha Joyce is a newly arrived staffer for the junior Senator from Ohio with expertise in health care. Released in 2005, the topic was timely with health care reform front and center, but it's still as fresh ten years later as it was back when I first read it. Sammy is idealistic, nervous around members of the opposite sex, a little neurotic, and forever hopeful. As she works on the issues for her boss, she tumbles into a romantic relationship. While billed as chic-lit, this is more than that. It's equal parts politics, which no doubt Kristin Gore has the experience to accurately portray, and lighthearted romance. I loved the story, the politics, and the characters. I'm looking forward to picking up more by Gore. Plot The main plot is Sammy's goal of getting health care reform passed, but a strong subplot is her romance with Aaron Driver, and both are done really well. It's definitely a fun, light read that moves quickly. The political process is interesting, even if it's told in a humorous way. Well, let's face it, politics is pretty much a joke in this country anyway. World Building Set on Capitol Hill, Kristin Gore has a solid handle on the world she's set her story in. Considering her parentage, it's understandable. I love her witty take on D.C, the procedures, and the political infighting. Characters Sammy is quirky in the best sense of the word. I know a lot of people have compared her to Bridget Jones, but she's really her own kind of awesome and she comes off adorkably so. The rest of the cast is just as delightful, but much less neurotic. Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Sammy's Hill 1. Sammy's quirks. She worries about everything and anything, including things that probably would never happen to anyone, but that's all part of her charm. 2. Capitol Hill. The setting is as fascinating as the characters and often just as colorful and off-balance. 3. Health care. Because even after the Affordable Care Act, it's still an important topic. 4. Politics. I'm a political junky, so the wonky plotline was pure confection. 5. Aaron Driver. He's one of the really good guys and it's nice to see that guys don't have to be total alpha male types to get the girl. Bottom Line Sammy's Hill is a quirky political romantic comedy with fun characters and a timeless plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I re-read it every summer and I just came on here to download it for my new nook and it's not available in ebook format! Nooooooo! I am hoping it comes out for the nook soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book made me laugh so hard I cried. Sammy is one of the funniest characters I have ever read. I let my dad read it and he couldn't put it down either- despite the fact that romance in it, it is an all around great read for anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
angelacli More than 1 year ago
Funny, funny, funny... The main character could be your quirky best friend. A hilarious fictional work that shows a funny perspective of capital hill. The plot thickens as the main character finds herself on a political roller coaster supporting her of the only honest politicians in DC, while he rockets forward in the political arena. The main character finds her in hilarious predicaments that she solves with the help of her also quirky friends.
Stacie0408 More than 1 year ago
Gore starts the book off as though the characters were in mid-sentence with you which is a great feeling! Immediately understanding the protagonist, Sammy, and her issues is a great insight to the novel. With recent events in Washington, the discussion of healthcare reform should resonate loudly with the reader. Learning more about her romance with Aaron Driver and the repeated run-ins with Charlie Lawton while balancing a full-time staffing job of a US Senator is full of laughs and "I can't believe that really happened to her" moments. Sammy's promotion to work for her boss as her party's Vice Presidential candidate brings yet another level to the amount of work she tries to accomplish in a mere 24 hours a day. From the opening lines to the ending, Sammy's Hill is an engrossing read and will definitely give a lift to your day.
AgathaHD More than 1 year ago
This was so close to Bridget Jones, that at first I was turned off, but I warmed to it very soon. Sammy is a kinder, gentler Bridget Jones. Whereas Bridget doesn't have much going for her, Sammy is at least very efficient at her job, even though she's got the klutz thing going on. Although I knew right where it was going, I enjoyed the ride. It was also interesting to speculate what fictional American political figures in the book might be patterned after real political figures. It gave me hope that perhaps not every politician is a jaded player. There could be some out there who are interested in decency and who feel they really do work for and are accountable to the people. Or members of the "pubic" (read the book!).
KRK More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down! From cover to cover, it took me less than 24 hours. There are pieces of Sammy that everyone can identify with, be it her addiction to the man that is clearly wrong for her, her affinity for sticking her foot in her mouth, or her self-proclaimed status as a hypochondriac. I must admit, after reading the first chapter, I wasn't that excited about the book, but it quickly took off from there. Sammy's Hill was a fabulous read - thank goodness I also bought Sammy's House so I can follow Samantha Joyce to the White House!!
LFWright More than 1 year ago
Really funny book that I truly enjoyed from cover to cover!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
SAMMY'S HILL throws young and idealistic Sammy Jones into the fiercely competitive, smooth-talking, back-stabbing world of D.C. politics. While at times it can be a struggle just to keep her head above water, Sammy never wavers in her commitment to serving the public good and bringing about honest change through the democratic system.

Working as a domestic policy advisor for a U.S. Senator is by no means easy, but Sammy adores her boss and works her butt off to make sure that he has the best information possible to make decisions about health care policy. Sammy is on a quest to make health care affordable for all Americans, and she will do whatever it takes to pass the necessary legislation. Pulling all-nighters fueled only by coffee and calling in weed-addled senior citizens to give testimony at Senate committee hearings are par for the course.

When she starts dating a staff member of a rival Senator, Sammy's professional and personal lives intertwine, with occasionally disastrous consequences. With her quirky and klutzy character, Sammy is lovable and easy to relate to. Who hasn't been conned into buying far-too-expensive Japanese fighting fish from a secret agent of the North Korean regime?

Kristin Gore is genius at crafting a witty storyline, too complex to be deemed merely chick-lit, but hilarious and with a proper dash of romance nonetheless. For anyone who adores romantic comedies but finds them often all too predictable, SAMMY'S HILL is a more intelligent alternative, with underlying messages about politics and life effortlessly woven into fast-paced entertainment.

Sammy's optimism and perseverance are inspiring and refreshing in a world that most associate with dirty money and personal agendas. If there were more Sammy Jones' in Washington, the world would be a better place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago