Saint Death (Hardcover)
Roaring Brook Press, 9781626725492, 240pp.
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.
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.
This title has Common Core connections.
A New York City Public Library Notable Best Book for Teens
A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
About the Author
Praise For Saint Death: A Novel…
"Eerily timely and prescient, this ambitious story is a necessary purchase for all collections."—School Library Journal, starred review
"Sedgwick’s unflinching narrative is timely and guaranteed to incite discussion, if not debate."—Booklist, starred review
"A compelling interior story of resilience, poverty, loyalty, and the value of life."—Horn Book
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. What do you think is the significance of the text that appears before some of the chapters in the novel? How does it tie into the story?
2. If you were put into Arturo’s shoes, would you help Faustino avoid trouble? How and where would you draw the line between fidelity and looking out for yourself?
3. On page 71, Siggy calls religion “a collective delusion . . . that ironically prevents madness for the individual”; he says that it is “very powerful indeed,” but not necessarily dangerous. Do you agree with any part of his analysis? What do you make of Faustino’s relationship with religion, particularly with Saint Death?
4. On their way to the games at El Alacrán, Arturo continually notices a deep anger in Faustino. What do you think the source of this anger is?
5. Do you think that desperate times truly call for measures as desperate as the ones that Arturo took in stealing money from the shrine and, as a result, “cheat[ing] death herself”?
6. What is the drug that Sedgwick refers to on page 125, the one he calls “the most powerful drug of them all”?
7. What is your interpretation of the dream Arturo has after El Carnero drops him off at his shack at the end of the night?
8. What is the importance of the fact that El Carnero has a shrine to Saint Death?
9. Why does Arturo realize there is nothing to fear, even in the face of immediate death?
10. Notice the connection between the opening and ending of the novel. Are these deaths meaningful? What do they come together to reveal?