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"I've been an Allegra Goodman fan for years, but Sam is hands down my new favorite. I loved this powerful and endearing portrait of a girl who must summon deep within herself the grit and wisdom to grow up."--Lily King, New York Times bestselling author of Writers & Lovers

What happens to a girl's sense of joy and belonging--to her belief in herself--as she becomes a woman? This unforgettable portrait of coming-of-age offers subtle yet powerful reflections on class, parenthood, addiction, lust, and the irrepressible power of dreams.

There is a girl, and her name is Sam. She adores her father, though he isn't around much. Her mother struggles to make ends meet, and never fails to remind her daughter that if she studies hard and acts responsibly, adulthood will be easier--more secure and comfortable. But comfort and security are of little interest to Sam. She doesn't fit in at school, where the other girls have the right shade of blue jeans and don't question the rules. Sam doesn't care about jeans or rules. She just loves to climb--trees, fences, walls, the side of a building.

As a teenager, Sam begins to doubt herself. She yearns for her climbing coach to notice her, but when he does it's more complicated than she anticipated. She resents her father's erratic behavior, but she grieves once he's gone. And she resists her mother's attempts to plan for her future, even as that future draws closer.

Allegra Goodman's beautiful and wise new novel is deceptively simple: it is about a girl who grows up. But underneath its straightforward chronology and spare sentences lie layers of extraordinary depth, sensitivity, and tenderness.