Saint Death

Saint Death

Book - 2016
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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.

Publisher: London : Orion Children's Books, 2016.
ISBN: 9781444011258
Branch Call Number: YA FIC Sedgw
Characteristics: 260 pages ; 21 cm


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JCLChrisK Jan 23, 2018

A powerful book about the tough and gritty existence on the edge of the border, where everyone dreams of better lives that are only available to a very few through even fewer routes.

"I'm old enough to remember when there was some kind of order here; the cartel ruled everyone, and that was that. No one controls these streets anymore. Now it's just anarchy; total and all-out war between all-comers. It's Hell, plain and simple, and that's funny because you know what they say--'Even the Devil is scared of living in Juarez.' But not me. It doesn't matter where you go; you have to die somewhere. Right?"

Death there is aplenty, so much that the Saint of Death receives as much worship as the Trinity. Death and trouble. Arturo has been eking out a living in a shantytown on the outskirts of town, but an old friend has gotten himself in trouble and is asking Arturo for help. He knows that if he agrees to help, things might never be the same. And the chances of things getting worse are much higher than they are of improving.

His story is tense, gripping, and heartbreaking.

Docked a star for Sedgwick's insertion of content to make the story topical and give it political and social context, which comes across as didactic and moralizing. It is not needed. The story is effective enough to convey the message all on its own.

Oct 29, 2017

Though filed under YA, this book tackles some very adult themes like globalization, immigration, and drug cartels. The author is British but captures the Mexico setting well and it works both as a gripping adventure and as a critique of certain political positions and neoliberal ideologies.

multcolib_susannel Aug 08, 2017

Arturo survives by his card playing skills and maintaining a low profile. But when Faustino asks him to gamble enough to repay the local drug lord, they decide to ask for help from Saint Death.


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JCLChrisK Jan 23, 2018

Remember this: every man has to find out for himself in what particular fashion he can be saved. I believe that. You just have to find out what it is you're looking for.

ArapahoeJessica May 22, 2017

"We all have a deep desire, a deep need, to ignore what is happening here. We do so in order that we can go on, day after day, but this is our future we are so very keen not to look at, and it rolls towards us, regardless of whether we choose to look away."

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