That's Life, Samara Brooks
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Flamingnet Student Book Reviewer TKono
"That's Life, Samara Brooks" by Daniel Ehrenhaft is something else. The book starts off with Samara getting in trouble for starting a gambling ring at school. Then, she proposes an idea to her principal--she will use an electron microscope to test her DNA against Lily's (school president and friend that bet on blackjack and lost); if the structure is the same, Samara should not be punished more for being "bad" because she is innately no different from Lily. Nathan--a geeky boy obsessed with alien / code theory--joins in the experiment, too. Mystery heats up as Nathan points out a mysterious "eye" in the photos of Samara's DNA that hint at extraterrestrial origins. The story gets even more intense when the photos are stolen and detectives are hot on the trail of the children.
This book is written from the perspectives of Samara, Lily, and Nathan in chunks. The topic of God comes up a lot--particularly because the donor of the electron microscope to the school was a scientific rival to a creationist. Certain characters believe in God as a gambler but think it's okay if others don't believe in him (Samara), certain believe in Jesus (Lily), and certain claim not to believe in God but simultaneously think he is an alien (Nathan). Unfortunately, at times, the creationist is seen as stupid and an ill-representation of the church. This book is a great mystery and quick to read, but the religious views are somewhat reflective of the perhaps confused nature of the author's own views. If anything, this book will be good for young Christian readers to test their faith and see how they react to what these characters say, which would be excellent for group discussion.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island,
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