- “Saint Death” by Marcus Sedgwick
- Young Adult Contemporary
- Read as an ebook
- 5/5 stars
- Finished October 31, 2017
A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by prize-winning novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.
Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez – twenty metres outside town lies a fence – and beyond it – America – the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he’s been working for. He’s dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he’s on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they’re as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) – she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.
“Nations are like people: first, they are born, they become children, they behave like children. They fight, they explore. They become adolescent. They fight even more but maybe they begin to understand. They might even become adults for a short time. But it’s important to remember that the process of civilisation does not only work in one direction. Having reached adulthood, nations get even older; they forget, they become senile. And so, civilisation starts to crumble, and once great empires become debased, violent and die. They destroy themselves.
Nations are like people.”
Some authors kind of sneak up on you and just take your breath away, Marcus Sedgwick has quickly become one of my all time favorite authors. I’ve read two of his books, this, and “The Ghosts of Heaven”. This book however, hit extremely close to where my heart is.
We follow Arturo, who lives in Anapra, a border town between Mexico and the United States. His friend Faustino gets involved in the cartels, and took some money from the money he was supposed to keep safe. He’s now trying to get his girlfriend and their baby across the border to safety and he turns to Arturo to help him.
I don’t want to give away too much about this book, but it’s really wonderful and I’m starting to think that Marcus Sedgwick is going to be one of my all time favorite writers. The writing in this book is basically poetry, it’s immersive and sad and wonderful all the same time. He writes about life on the border, and the issues that come up in a way that reminds you that these stories are not just about those people over there, but they’re truly about all of us, and how we interact with the world.
Arturo is a character we all end up seeing some of ourselves in, especially if you’ve ever felt like you’re stuck somewhere you don’t want to be, or that you have that one friend that you’d do anything for. The book is a personal one, one that as I read it, felt like it had been written just for me. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a good one, and it’s emotional and engrossing in a way that I’ve missed in a lot of my more recent reads. I cannot recommend this book more highly.
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