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The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester

By Maya MacGregor
The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

An Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction Nominee

“Look no further for your next favorite read, because The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester has it all: a gripping murder mystery that will keep you turning pages, ghosts, romance, and a treasure trove of queer characters with depth and heart. Here’s something rare—a suspenseful story that also feels like a hug.” —Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the Reign of the Fallen series

In this queer contemporary YA mystery, a nonbinary autistic teen realizes they must not only solve a 30-year-old mystery but also face the demons lurking in their past in order to live a satisfying life.

Sam Sylvester has long collected stories of half-lived lives—of kids who died before they turned nineteen. Sam was almost one of those kids. Now, as Sam’s own nineteenth birthday approaches, their recent near-death experience haunts them. They’re certain they don’t have much time left. . . .

But Sam's life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, their next-door neighbor. Yet the past keeps roaring back—in Sam’s memories and in the form of a thirty-year-old suspicious death that took place in Sam’s new home. Sam can’t resist trying to find out more about the kid who died and who now seems to guide their investigation. When Sam starts receiving threatening notes, they know they’re on the path to uncovering a murderer. But are they digging through the past or digging their own future grave?

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester explores healing in the aftermath of trauma and the fullness of queer joy.

7 Reviews

“Thank you NetGalley and Astra Publishing for an advanced copy of this book. I am choosing to leave this review. A paranormal coming of age story of Sam Sylvester and their friends searching for the answers of a 30 year old cold case.This is the kind of coming of age story that I hope every kid gets to read. So many great reps LGTBQ+, nonbinary, bi, autism, neurodivergent rep. Lets get chatty about this book 1) PARENTAL FIGURES ARE PRESENT!!! There are so few YA coming of age stories, or anything, that also includes the parents as apart of the story line. I loved that Sam's father, Junius, is present and has actual parental opinions. He positively influences the story and is a really great role model for Sam and all of his friends. 2) A lot of personal dialogue about Sam's thought promise during stimuli and him figuring out a way to respond. I enjoyed Sam's mention of how they are answer something in a way that might not best suit them but will the person they are talking to. I think this perspective is great because it really shows how much work responding to anybody's preference is and there are extra challenges for neurodiverse/autistic. 3) I thought the integration of the paranormal aspect was a bit clunky at first but then it really intertwined with the story. I can see why some people did not enjoy this because I think the story would of been just as strong without a paranormal aspect.”
“Thank you to Net Galley for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review! This was an interesting read for me on many levels. It had a bunch of stuff I absolutely loved and a bunch of stuff that I didn’t particularly care for. Things I loved: The representation in this book is immaculate. I can count on one hand how many books there are with non-binary rep, let alone autism rep. This was done so so well, including all the LGBTQ+ rep within the side characters. I also really loved how ride ir die the dad was for Sam. He would quite literally do anything for them without a second thought. It was so refreshing to read a queer book that had a supportive and stable parental figure. Things I didn’t love: The plot was blander than flour and reminded me of a D version scooby doo and the mystery gang. It was incredibly anticlimactic and the the paranormal/murder mystery aspect got completely lost in so many places of the overall story arc. I wish there was more complexity to this book but it’s a solid, light read with amazing representation on all fronts.”
“I've only read one other book that describes the autistic experience so well. I love how it's repeatedly emphasized how important Sam's special interest is to them. I love how the story talks about Sam's trauma and doesn't gloss over it but it doesn't go into excruciating detail about it either. The story treats Sam's trauma as something terrible and heavily influential for them. As an autistic person who has been through trauma, I feel like this story treats it with the gravity it deserves without making Sam's past seem so depressing you wonder why Sam is still around. All around, it's a wonderful book. A wonderful, captivating story about a nonbinary autistic teen navigating trauma and social relationships, with a 30-year-old murder mystery on the side.”

About Maya MacGregor

Maya MacGregor is a writer, singer, and artist. They sing and write in Gàidhlig and in English. You can find their bilingual work on tor.com, in Steall magazine (summer 2020), and Uncanny magazine, with poetry in Poets' Republic and elsewhere. They sing with the Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association, the Alba Choir, and Fuaran. The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester, their first young adult novel, is a Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction Nominee.

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