Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group
First published October 6th, 2016
Genres: Thriller, YA, Realistic Fiction
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon
A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by PRINTZ MEDAL winning and CARNEGIE MEDAL, COSTA BOOK AWARD and GUARDIAN CHILDREN’S FICTION PRIZE shortlisted 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.
This was so much more than I was initially expecting. It was such a deep and important read…. I was expecting something although realistic, still simple and easy to read. Well, this was not it, this was much better than I could have hoped for.
This book is timeless, but it’s even more important in this moment. It deals with the reality of immigration and border controls, the reality of how difficult some lives are and how some people are treated lower than we think possible. That some deserve to die in the hands of others that simply hold the power/money to do so.
It deals also with religion, beliefs, and hopes. It’s emotional, it’s hard to read about, but it’s the most realistic book about immigration I’ve ever read and I LOVED IT. I’m an immigrant too and although I am happy to say that I didn’t pass through things like the ones mentioned in this book, I do know people that didn’t have such luck and we, unfortunately, see also a lot of that on TV nowadays.
The story is passed in the border between Mexico and the US, more specifically in Juarez where streets are ruled by drug dealers and their minions, where there’s no money or conditions for better lives other than that and where no one does anything to stop that. Our main character Arturo hasn’t got an easy life but it’s about to get a lot harder when his “brother”, Faustino comes to him for help. Faustino has to pay a drug lord a lot of money and if he doesn’t he’s dead. So they try to figure out a way to accomplish that.
I really enjoyed the characters. Well, mainly Arturo… I really loved to read about him and although I couldn’t relate to him, I sympathized immensely. He made me feel what he was feeling and it was both interesting and terrifying. He felt really realistic and not at all sugar coated and that’s what I loved the most. There’s nothing sugar coated on this book!
Another thing I loved is the mention of Santa Muerte or in English, Saint Death. I already knew a bit about it but I loved to read more about it from different POVs. It was just really interesting and thrilling.
The way the book was structured was fantastic and powerful. It gripped me and I needed to get to the end and see what was going to happen and what I got surprised me in the most incredible way possible. It made this book just perfect for me and I would recommend it to everyone!
Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it? Let’s discuss it in the comments below!