Sam’s Crossing

Atheneum, 1992

Set in Atlanta in the 80’s, Sam’s Crossing is about a young couple who live together in Little Five Points, an edgy neighborhood with a host of interesting and sometimes dangerous characters. Kate is a social worker in a neonatal until at Grady Hospital, Atlanta’s downtown hospital. Day in and day out, Kate has to cope with ailing infants, upset and sometimes grieving parents, truly serious matters. Sam meanwhile works in a local bookstore. He has vague ambitions to write but seems content to float in the congenial, undemanding low-key world of book displays, author signings, and customer requests. But now, after four years together, Kate wants something more. She wants marriage, a baby, “a lifetime commitment, a love that is thorough and expansive.” Sam genuinely wants to give her all these things and more–but the only thing he is confident about is his “uncanny ability to make a mess of things.” So Kate moves out, and the two of them are sent off down a bumpy, zigzag path filled with uncertainties.


“The combination of Hays’ sense of humor and honesty makes Sam’s Crossing a lively, refreshing novel. Peopled with eccentric characters, the comedy deepens, however, as Hays sensitively incorporates homelessness, interracial relationships, unplanned pregnancy and single parenthood into a story without making the book sound like a politically correct polemic…  Sam’s Crossing explores the risks and rewards–the vulnerability, compromise, intimacy and strength–of love. We root for Sam and Kate, even when they’re apart, as they fight to retain the connection that defines them separately and together.” —Wendy Sheanin in the San Francisco Chronicle

“… Mr. Hays’ novel tests its characters in ways that are touching and funny–and revealing of the intricate workings of the human heart.” —Linda Barrett Osborne in The New York Times

“… one of the finest books of the new year.” —Rodney Steven in The State

Sam’s Crossing is a rare pleasure, a novel that’s easy to read and easy to like, funny, bittersweet and real.” —Chris Kridler in The Charlotte Observer

Sam’s Crossing is a couple of things, both of them good. It’s a page turner, and it’s the sort of first novel reviewers call promising when they really mean it slays them but the author isn’t yet famous enough for them to risk saying so.” —L. Elisabeth Beattie in the Lexington Herald-Leader

“Tommy Hays is a writer with a rare comic spirit—his insights are at once sharp and gentle, and instructive about the New South. His book takes its characters through a sequence of hurdles and blunders as they zigzag toward a seemingly impossible reconciliation, whose bumpy social harmony is the book’s great theme.  Sam’s Crossing is bright and singular and will bring readers much pleasure.” —Joan Silber, author of Improvement, Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

“Sam’s Crossing is a rich and funny book, beautifully crafted and full of wonderful writing. Hays manages to transform the landscape of contemporary Atlanta into a landscape of the human heart, creating in the process, the rarest of literary delights: a genuine love story.” —Robert Bowell, author of Tumbledown and Crooked Hearts.