Why It Had to Be Sam

Susan Book Excerpts, Books, On Writing, Scribbles

We did everything wrong, and by all rights, my son should have died. When the pain started, low on his right side, we put heat on it and gave him Tylenol, I also gave him a dihydrocodeine dosage. Because we lived in Russia and the medical situation sketchy, we decided to wait and see if perhaps he had an upset stomach.

Twenty-four hours later, I watched as the doctors wheeled my writhing twelve-year-old away on a stretcher. In the lonely, dark cement corridor, a cat lingered in the corner, watching, waiting perhaps for lunch. Down the hall, children dressed in flimsy gowns and threadbare bathrobes played cards in a common lounge. Roaches scurried along the baseboards, dodging our shoes.

I took my husband’s hand, and we sat down, praying.

An hour later, they wheeled my son into a room, and we helped lift his ragdoll body onto a springy bed. The second bed, the size of a cot, contained a grey striped prison mattress. “You can bring bedding and stay with him,” the nurse said, I know I couldn’t expect a king size bed mattress but come on!!

I covered his frail form, but the nurse came in and, without notice, plunged a needle of antibiotics into his bum. He woke with a scream and I wanted to wail.

“How long does he have to stay?” I asked, barely restraining myself from scooping him up and escaping the hospital at a full sprint.

“Ten days.”

Because Russia didn’t have the ability to give him IV antibiotics, my poor son received four shots in the bum/day. That’s forty shots. He came home more wounded in the backside than his surgical wound.

For ten days I attempted to cheer him up, chased the roaches from his bedding, brought him food, and played game after game as he recuperated. My worry turned to gratefulness, then to weariness as the days drew on. My other three children at home took turns joining me at the hospital. Sometimes my husband joined me. For ten days, our life came to a standstill, consumed with helping our son heal.

As we took him home, healed if not thinner, my gratefulness took my breath away. We had a son to take home. We all survived.

But this memory of the fear, the helplessness, the weariness, the gratitude became the threads with which I wove the character of Sam in my new book, It Had To Be You.


Sam is a single father who owns a sports bar and cares for his only child, a daughter named Maddy. Her mother died of a heart condition giving birth, and Maddy inherited it. As the story opens, she’s already had one heart transplant at the age of seven.

Now, her body is in rejection, and she might need another.

Sam is an exhausted, brave, compassionate father who longs to pluck his own heart from his chest if it will keep his daughter alive. He’s broke and alone and has only his best friend, Jace, to lean on. He’s not sure he can survive another long wait for a heart, emotionally or financially.

Sam is also a strong Christian who suddenly feels forgotten by God, even if his head tells him otherwise. Sam is every believer who is sent reeling in their faith by a tragic moment. Does God care?

As Sam grapples with his faith, he has no idea that God has plans to use him to help everyone discover the answer in my new book, It Had to Be You. I hope you’ll join him in the journey.

Thanks for reading!
Susan May

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren

It Had to Be You

by Susan May Warren

Giveaway ends February 28, 2014.

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