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Saint Death

Saint Death
Marcus Sedgwick
Orion, 2016
Source: E-Galley
Audience: Older Teens, Adults

From Goodreads:
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.

Normally, I read Marcus Sedgwick’s books because they sound fantastic, and then I am disappointed. Saint Death did not go that way, and I’m so glad. I know that I’m biased towards stories regarding Hispanic culture because I’ve spent over half my life studying Spanish, but I just have to say how much I LOVED this book. It was gritty and well written. I felt like I was there. The characters were interesting and I cared about them, even though they were obviously making mistakes. It was easy for the reader, as an outsider, to think, “Oh, don’t do that!” but had the reader been in the characters’ places, the reader probably would have done the same thing. Just when I thought that I understood everything, a twist would come up and change it all. Finally, the ending was sad, but I still knew that it had to be that way. However, I didn’t understand why this book was in the teen section. I’m assuming that the main characters were teens, but I don’t remember reading their ages. If they were indeed teens, they had to deal with so much at such a young age. Again, a lot of that had to do with the choices, but given the circumstances, what else could they have done? In a word, amazing.