Skip to main content

Saint Death: A Novel

Review

Saint Death: A Novel

Marcus Sedgwick is a British novelist, illustrator and musician. He has received numerous honors including the Printz Award and the Blue Peter Book Award. He currently lives in the French Alps where he writes for The Guardian and is working on his newest books. Some of his previous works are THE GHOST OF HEAVEN and LOVE LIKE BLOOD. His novel, SAINT DEATH, was first published in October 2016.

SAINT DEATH follows the harrowing tale of Arturo, a poor teenager living on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico in Anapra. He mostly keeps to himself, living in a shack with just the bare necessities. His days consist of him working odd jobs to support himself. Gang and drug activity consume Juarez, and when his best friend, Faustino, bursts back into his life after a year of no contact, that life of crime begins to affect Arturo as well. Faustino has gotten himself in trouble with the gang he joined, and he needs Arturo to help him get enough money to buy himself, his girlfriend and his baby out of trouble.

"SAINT DEATH is for those who are not afraid to read something honest and heartbreaking. It is perfect for those who are looking to widen their worldview and perspective."

Arturo was an honest yet frustratingly flawed character. No matter what he does, the odds seem to be stacked against him. I really appreciated his loyalty and commitment to get from one day to the next. Faustino was in an even more risky situation, but he, too, had been through a tumultuous childhood like Arturo. Both of them are just trying to survive, even if they choose different avenues to do so. Their friendship was complicated yet ran deep, prevailing through all that they went through. Other characters, like Siggy, Carlos and Margarita, were only briefly in the story, but they left a considerable impact on Arturo.

Each chapter was separated by either immigration statistics, definitions, explanations of laws, or diary-type entries, and they add to the reader's overall understanding of the story and the terminology and reasoning behind these characters’ situations. I especially found Santa Muerte and her followers to be a really interesting and enlightening part of SAINT DEATH. Even through all of their hardships, these characters were able to hold onto their belief in her and her gifts. Overall, I learned a lot about Mexico that I didn’t know before, and I feel like I have a greater understanding of just how unequal things truly are.

Arturo’s story was by no means an easy read. It is a short yet extensive novel that touches on aspects of life, death and fear. It may not be a feel-good type of read, but it is a necessary one. Arturo may be a character in a book, but his life is all too real for many. Sedgwick opens up the reader to a world they have never experienced and, as a result, they can have more empathy and be more knowledgeable. In the political climate of today, reading is a way that we can connect with and understand each other, and SAINT DEATH is a prime example of that.

I highly recommend this novel to mature readers who are interested in issues surrounding immigration as well as those who are willing to learn about any topic. SAINT DEATH is for those who are not afraid to read something honest and heartbreaking. It is perfect for those who are looking to widen their worldview and perspective.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on May 29, 2018

Saint Death: A Novel
by Marcus Sedgwick