Thursday, November 14, 2019

Review: Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Title: Saint X
Author: Alexis Schaitkin
Published: February 2020, Celadon Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

Hailed as a “marvel of a book” and “brilliant and unflinching,” Alexis Schaitkin’s stunning debut Saint X is a haunting portrait of grief, obsession, and the bond between two sisters never truly given the chance to know one another.

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men―employees at the resort―are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth―not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

For readers of Emma Cline’s The Girls and Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Saint X is a flawlessly drawn and deeply moving story that culminates in an emotionally powerful ending.

My thoughts: It's not often that I read a book so far ahead of it's publication date but I just couldn't help myself with this one. This is going to be a book everyone will be talking's that good! So mark your calendars for February 18th when this one hits the will definitely want to pick up a copy or pre-order this book.

One thing to take note of...while this book might give off vibes of the Natalie Hollaway case, it could not be more different. And I so appreciated that. Yes, there are some similarities in that there is a college girl that goes missing on an island and winds up dead. But this isn't just a whodunit story. The mystery surrounding Alison's death is not central to this book but rather secondary.  The main story is how Alison's family deals with her death, specially her sister Claire. What are the ramifications of such a horrific incident on our lives, and what are the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world when something happens that we aren't given a clear cut answer?

I loved the way this story was told, alternating from Claire/Emily's perspective to that of the other character's point of view sprinkled in here and there. We get their view points on how Alison's death has affected their lives which just goes to show how one traumatic event really can have a lasting impact. Characters are vividly drawn, and at times you will empathize with them and at other times, you will want to knock some sense into them. It also takes a look at class - the haves and the have-nots are clearly drawn out here. We are shown the life of luxury on one page and then shown how some are just trying to make ends meet. The juxtaposition throughout this book will knock your socks off.

This is the type of book that will not only haunt you, but play on all your emotions. It will have you thinking of those you lost and how their death has affected you. Alexis Schaitkin has developed a book that went in a direction I could not even have imagined and I loved every second of it. She is definitely an author to keep an eye out for and I am stunned that this is her debut novel...this is one not to be missed!!!


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