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.
February 18th, 2020
I had a lot of anticipation about Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin and it was just one of the 2020 books I was the most excited about. Unfortunately, after a really great start, it ended up being a reading letdown for me.
I think my lack of connection with this book has to do a lot with what my expectations were when I read the book summary compared to my actual reading experience. I was just expecting something very different!
I love a slow burn with highly detailed characters but this one totally threw me off with the fast-paced beginning. I think if I knew it was going to be less plot-driven I would have had very different expectations for it.
I don’t need twists and turns but this was ending up being so wordy and after a dramatic beginning just lacked any oompf for me after the beginning set me up with so many questions I needed answers for.
Because the characters weren’t likable and even though it was rich with text, I never ended up feeling like I “knew them” which just made me feel uninvested in the storyline. I think this book did have some powerful messages regarding race, class, and privilege, but these fell flat for me with the particularly wordy writing style.
I think Saint X is going to be one of those books that there are strong feelings about. Even just reading the initial ARC reviews on Goodreads, there is a whole range of reactions, some that are very positive. I think, all in all, this just was a case of being the wrong timing and expectations for me as a reader.
Thank you to Celadon Books, NetGalley and LibroFM for advanced copies. All opinions are my own.
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