The Book of Lost Saints by DJ Older
It’s Linz and I just finished a fab fresh ARC! Thanks to ALA, Imprint/Macmillan, and DJ Older for the advanced copy. The Book of Lost Saints hits shelves Nov. 5, and is available here or at your local indie bookstore for purchase.
Summary: Bitches be ghostin family members
What I drank: Guys I just…I can’t drink anymore to write this drunk review. I’ve spent 3 days drinking at Oktoberfest in Munich, including THIS MORNING BEFORE MY FLIGHT what am I doing with my life. All I’ve consumed today is TWO BEERS and a German-ish donut. Everything is the worst. *sips Lufthansa free red wine*
What it’s about (excerpted from Goodreads):
“Marisol vanished during the Cuban Revolution, her fate unknown and lost to time. Now, haunted by atrocities long-forgotten, her foul-mouthed spirit visits her nephew, Ramon, in modern-day New Jersey. Her hope: That her presence will prompt her descendant to unearth their painful family history.
Ramon launches a haphazard investigation into the story of his ancestor, unaware of the forces driving him on his search. Along the way, he falls in love, discovers a new sense of his own identity, faces a run-in with a murderous gangster, and learns of each “lost saint” who helped Marisol during her imprisonment under Batista’s reign.”
Let me tell you, this was not the book I thought I was going to read. I don’t know why I thought it was going to be from the nephew’s POV, but the entire book is told from the dead aunt’s POV, So fair warning that it takes a minute to get *there,* but I got there and goddamn…this book is REAL good.
OH OH I should totally mention that I believe this is Older’s first foray into ADULT novels, so don’t give this to, like, a 10yo Or do, I don’t know that 10yo’s life (but seriously don’t yo)
- Wildly fresh narration and structure – Marisol jumps between her past, which she’s still kind of living in, and present day, where she’s a ghost trying to get her nephew Ramon to find out how she disappeared. It took a minute to get into the structure, but once I understood, I couldn’t put this book down. The spirit-y voice was a choice and it WORKS.
- Awesomely developed characters – even when characters frustrated you, motivations were clear, and personalities were well-developed. Like honestly sometimes you’ll get annoyed with Ramon but you’ll get where he’s coming from. God I loved me some side characters in this book.
- GORGEOUS descriptions of Cuba, and even of Jersey somehow, which, woof.
- Man that fucking story tho. We had a family mystery, immigrant narrative, self-discovery, a nontraditional ghost story, historical context.
This reminded me a lot of Patron Saints of Nothing, in the best ways. I think some people feel there’s “too many” immigrant narratives because so many share common themes – of loss, of struggle, of displacement, of burying the past to move on to the future, of regimes under jacked-up governments. Those people are, of course, fucking morons – while all these stories may seem “the same,” they’re uhhhh not? We need every single one of these stories because of those universal themes. It helps us understand and empathize with others better while learning about experiences outside our own.
What I gave it: 5 out of 5 fuuuuucking stars
What I’d pair it with: MOJITO GIRL. Classic but refreshing.