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Saint Death:  A Novel
Author: Sedgwick, Marcus
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Age: 14-19  Grade: 9-12  LC: PZ7.S448 
ISBN-10: 1626725497  ISBN-13: 9781626725492  Brodart No: 117306657 
Language: English 
Demand: Hot 
Pub Date: 04/25/2017
Availability: Available
List: $17.99
Physical Description: 227 pages ; 25 cm LCCN: 2016035286 
LC Series:
Brodart Sources: Brodart's Common Core Selections
Brodart's For Youth Interest Titles
Brodart's For Youth Interest: Popular
Brodart's Insight Catalog: Teen
Brodart's TOP Young Adult Titles
Brodart's YA Reads for Adults
Bibliographies: Texas Tayshas Reading List
Starred Reviews: Booklist
School Library Journal
Awards: Booklist Starred Reviews 
Horn Book Guide Titles, Rated 1 - 4 
School Library Journal Starred Reviews 
TIPS Subjects: Action/Adventure
Social Life and Customs
SEARS Subjects: Social systems, Fiction
Violence, Fiction
LC Subjects: Drug traffic, Fiction
Drug traffic, Juvenile fiction
Human trafficking, Fiction
Human trafficking, Juvenile fiction
Mexican-American Border Region, Fiction
Mexican-American Border Region, Juvenile fiction
Reading Programs: Lexile Level: 830
Reading Counts Level: 5.4, Points: 14.0
Brodart's TOP Young Adult Titles | 04/01/2017
Publisher Annotation: On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he’s stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo's help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past. Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death―and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick. 240pp.
 Starred Reviews:
Booklist | 03/01/2017
Grades 9-12. In ramshackle Colonia de Anapra, near the Mexican border town of Juarez, people's lives are governed by extreme poverty, fear, and gang violence. Arturo scrapes together a living hauling junk and playing cards, and it is the latter talent that brings his best friend, Faustino, to his door after a year's absence. Now a gang member, Faustino confesses to "borrowing" $1,000 from his boss, which must be returned by the next day or he'll be killed. He begs Arturo to win the money in a high-stakes card game. Angry at being drawn into such a dangerous situation, Arturo begrudgingly agrees to help after learning the money was used to send Faustino's girlfriend and baby over the U.S. border. Sedgwick crafts a provocative and unsettling story, as he immerses readers in the violence of Anapra--a place where women regularly go missing, cops turn a blind eye to crime, and residents revere Santa Muerte, Saint Death. Plot threads buzz with tension--Arturo's card game being among the story's most intense scenes--and characters are redefined as their pasts are gradually revealed. Preceding most chapters are fragments of a wider conversation--message boards, statistics, inner monologues--largely on illegal immigration and the exploitation of poor countries. Uncomfortable and at times accusatory, Sedgwick's unflinching narrative is timely and guaranteed to incite discussion, if not debate. Smith, Julia. 240p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2017.
School Library Journal | 03/01/2017
Gr 9 Up. Arturo is scraping by, living in Anapra, on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico. He can see El Norte from his small shack, but America feels distant compared with his reality spent hauling things at the auto shop and trying to avoid the notice of gang members and the cartel, who have carved up Juarez into their own sections of territory. Arturo's childhood friend Faustino reenters his life, preparing to use stolen money to send his girlfriend Eva and their son illegally across the border. With his gang boss on the verge of discovering the theft, Faustino is desperate for help to replace the $1,000 he has taken. Arturo reluctantly agrees to try to win the money playing Calavera. Looming over his story, and Juarez itself, is Santa Muerte--Saint Death. The folk saint watches impassively as people in the border town struggle in the face of a vicious drug trade, dangerous trafficking, corruption, and income inequality. It's possible that Santa Muerte might help Arturo if he prays hard enough and proves himself. But it's also possible she'll watch as Arturo heads toward his tragic ending. Arturo's narrative alternates with commentary from nameless third parties on conditions affecting Mexico, and Juarez specifically, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, climate change, the city's founding, and even the worship of Saint Death herself. The formatting and language underscore that this is a book about Mexican characters who live their lives in Spanish--non-English words are not italicized, and dialogue is formatted according to Spanish-language conventions. This well-researched novel is an absorbing, heart-rending read and a scathing indictment of the conditions that have allowed the drug trade and human trafficking to flourish in Mexico. VERDICT Eerily timely and prescient, this ambitious story is a necessary purchase for all collections. Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library. 240p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2017.
 Journal Reviews
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books | 04/01/2017
R. Gr. 10-12. Arturo lives alone in a makeshift community of shacks made of packing crates and sheet metal on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico. His former best friend Faustino has joined a gang and transferred his spiritual allegiance from Cristo Rey to Santa Muerte (Saint Death), and he has stolen from his boss to pay coyotes to get his girlfriend and their baby across the border; he wants Arturo, with his skill at cards, to win money to cover the theft. Arturo ends up in debt himself, and his search for cash leads him to the father he thought was dead but who has joined the cartel-and to a fatal choice. Sedgwick's literary craftsmanship is the only light in the unrelenting darkness of this all-too-realistic story. Faustino and Arturo are aptly named, the former willingly selling his soul to Saint Death while the latter loses despite his best efforts to resist her pervasive presence. Interstitial insets featuring political talking points, social media posts, prayers, and cris de coeur are as heavy-handed as they are poetic, positioning Arturo's story within the larger contexts of climate change, NAFTA, abject poverty, religious mythology, geopolitical failures, and the menace of the drug cartels. Arturo, ever attentive to the very real presence of Saint Death, remains resigned to his fate even as he does what he can to try to avoid it or at least give Faustino's baby a chance for something better. Genuine tragedies in the Aristotelean sense may be rare in literature for young people, but this is certainly one of them, and its ties to real life make it more powerful. KC. 240p. THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIV. OF ILLINOIS, c2017.
Horn Book | 07/01/2017
High School. Sedgwick (Revolver, rev. 3/10; The Ghosts of Heaven, rev. 1/15; Midwinterblood, rev. 3/13) offers a timely look at teens across the border in his Doctor Faustus-inspired novel about former best friends forced to help each other when one finds himself in debt to a gangster. Faustino has sent his girlfriend and her baby to the United States, stealing money from the notorious El Carnero in order to do so. He comes to his former friend Arturo in need of Arturo's skills as a card player to win back the money before El Carnero knows it's gone. Arturo goes to a seedy bar to play calavera, only to find he's playing against the gangster himself. And, as many gamblers do, he finds himself high on winning and goes too far, beginning to lose the money he has won in just a few hands. Soon Arturo is in more danger than Faustino, and he seeks the help of Santa Muerte, a not-so-official saint whose house of worship lies nearby. The use of Spanish punctuation in English sentences, meant to remind readers that the story happens to Spanish-speakers, is distracting in this context, and might pull some readers out of the flow of the dialogue. Otherwise, Saint Death presents a compelling interior story of resilience, poverty, loyalty, and the value of life. sarah hannah gomez. 228pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2017.
BookPage | 05/01/2017
14 and up. "We all have a deep desire, a deep need, to ignore what is happening here," writes Marcus Sedgwick midway through Saint Death. Sedgwick, who sets his new novel amid the violent borderlands of Juarez, Mexico, might be describing human migration or death itself, embodied in this story by the mystical appearance--both literal and figurative--of Santa Muerte, or Saint Death. Either way, Sedgwick's latest novel forces readers to look at what's happening in regions of Mexico, and at the pressures that have created the drug cartels, which are provoked by U.S. demand and, in many cases, armed by the U.S., too. Caught in the crosshairs of this volatile situation is a lonely young man, Arturo, a cardsharp who is enlisted to help save the life of his old friend Faustino--but who finds himself in a bargain he has no real way to win. With Saint Death, Sedgwick offers a timely story that often reads like a thriller--or like a fable. Suffused with elements of magical realism and informed by real-world facts and statistics, Sedgwick's narrative is remarkably immersive, providing both context and a human face for an issue that too often remains abstract but that, as he suggests, cannot be ignored. Norah Piehl. 240p. BOOKPAGE, c2017.
Horn Book Guide | 11/01/2017
2. Sedgwick offers a timely look at teens across the border in his Doctor Faustus-inspired novel about former best friends forced to help each other when one is in debt to a Mexican gangster. Though the use of Spanish punctuation in English sentences might distract some readers, Saint Death presents a compelling interior story of resilience, poverty, loyalty, and the value of life. shg. 228pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2017.
Kirkus Reviews | 02/15/2017
A timely but unflinching look at the distressing impact of drugs on the U.S.-Mexico border. Arturo is a teenager living in Colonia de Anapra, a poor neighborhood of Ciudad Juarez. He gets by doing odd jobs and hustling small amounts of cash with the card game calavera. Faustino, an old friend and now a member of a drug gang, has stolen a large sum of money from the gang, so he begs Arturo to help him replace it. Seeing Eva, Faustino's girlfriend, and her baby, Arturo agrees to help. Santa Muerte, the titular St. Death, looms large over the plot, invoked in italicized passages between chapters that act as a Greek chorus. Arturo is reluctant to believe in Santa Muerte, but he lights a candle anyway. Over the course of the night that follows, Arturo plays a desperate game of calavera to redeem the debt, and as the stakes rise, so does Arturo's faith in Santa Muerte. And as Arturo's game inevitably fails him, Santa Muerte watches him closely. Printz winner Sedgwick (Midwinterblood, 2013) makes great use of unitalicized Spanish throughout the story, with an English translation following most of the Spanish. His third-person, present-tense narrative combines his characteristic precision of English prose with Spanish punctuation conventions in his dialogue. The use of em dashes instead of quotation marks and surrounding questions and exclamations in the Spanish fashion ("--¿What? No way"), while initially distancing for readers unfamiliar with the convention, ultimately creates a dizzyingly immersive experience. Readers will be both devastated and inspired by Arturo's devotion to Faustino and his faith in Santa Muerte. (Fiction. 14-adult). 240pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2017.
Publishers Weekly | 05/01/2017
Ages 14-up. Sedgwick (Blood Red Snow White) transports readers to the border city of Juarez in this grim study of the repercussions of U.S. policies and the market for narcotics on Mexico and its citizens. Arturo cobbles together a life in Anapra, "a little less than a shanty town," where he is visited by childhood friend Faustino, who has gotten mixed up with the deadly local gangs and is in desperate need of money. Arturo reluctantly agrees to put his gambling talents to the test in order to help his old friend, but it's a dangerous game, and it doesn't end well. Sedgwick interweaves the cruel realities of day-to-day existence in a desert landscape plagued by gang warfare--where people vanish without notice and brutalized corpses appear just as suddenly--with interspersed passages that address NAFTA and other relevant social context, as well as musings that revolve around Santa Muerte, "a folk saint, a rebel angel, a powerful divinity excommunicated from the Orthodox," to whom Arturo devotes himself. The novel's many tragedies feel all but inexorable, and Arturo's story will linger with readers. (Apr.). 240p. Publishers Weekly Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2017.