“The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester” Review

A young person shown on the cover with white/purple hair and wearing a black t-shirt with a logo of something that is covered up by the book they're holding in their right hand against their chest. Their right arm is covered with a tattoo of sky and a bird and tree. The background is purple and white with stars. The title is shown at the top of te cover. Written by Maya MacGregor
Published by Astra Young Readers, May 2022
355 pages
Completed July 20, 2023 (2nd read)

Sam Sylvester’s not overly optimistic about their recent move to the small town of Astoria, Oregon after a traumatic experience in their last home in the rural Midwest.

Yet Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, the pretty neighbor. However, Sam can’t seem to let go of what might have been, and is drawn to investigate the death of a teenage boy in 1980s Astoria. Sam’s convinced he was murdered–especially since Sam’s investigation seems to resurrect some ghosts in the town.

Threatening notes and figures hidden in shadows begin to disrupt Sam’s life. Yet Sam continues to search for the truth. When Sam discovers that they may be closer to a killer than previously known, Sam has a difficult decision to make. Would they risk their new life for a half-lived one?

Originally read this last year soon after it was published – I still love it. It’s a great quick read with awesome characters. The central mystery is a little predictable but it was still fun waiting to see what was going on. I liked it more for the character interactions. Especially Sam realizing there is a place where they can be themselves and have friends and date safely. This is both a story about being non-binary and Autistic and finding people who get you in all the ways that matter. Their father already does but having people beyond their father understand them is something new.