Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on March 14th 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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Tess da Costa is a saint — a hand-to-god, miracle-producing saint. At least that's what the people in her hometown of New Avon, Massachusetts, seem to believe. And when Tess suddenly and tragically passes away, her small city begins feverishly petitioning the Pope to make Tess's sainthood official. Tess's mother is ecstatic over the fervor, while her sister Callie, the one who knew Tess best, is disgusted - overcome with the feeling that her sister is being stolen from her all over again.
The fervor for Tess's sainthood only grows when Ana Langone, a local girl who's been missing for six months, is found alive at the foot of one of Tess's shrines. It's the final straw for Callie.
With the help of Tess's secret boyfriend Danny, Callie's determined to prove that Tess was something far more important than a saint; she was her sister, her best friend and a girl in love with a boy. But Callie's investigation uncovers much more than she bargained for: a hidden diary, old family secrets, and even the disturbing truth behind Ana's kidnapping.
Fantastic debut. I think the author did a really fantastic job of capturing all the different emotions that were present in this novel. There was a lot going on here and it would have been super easy for it all to become convoluted, and fast.
First there was the religious aspect. Is Tess a saint or not? And then the author had to capture Tess’s despair at having all these people praying to her and depending on her. Imagine all the stress she was under. And somehow, through all that she had to be a sister, a daughter, and a girlfriend too.
Then there was Callie and her investigation to disprove that her sister was a saint, because she believed that Tess was a normal girl–a special girl but a normal one–and she wanted her sister to be left alone in her death, which I can understand. She also had to deal with a other who wanted very badly for her other daughter to be a saint, and Callie was left feeling unloved and unwanted by her mother, who, aside from her aunt, was the only family she had left.
All the different relationships were done very well, and there are a lot of characters in this novel, so that is a great feat that it was done well, especially for a debut.
Plus, there is the matter of the kidnapping of Ana, a six year old girl that lived across the street from Tess and Callie. The book is not a mystery, per se, but it is written as if it could be one. We know who the perpetrator is from the moment he appears on the page, but it’s a matter of Callie and Danny figuring out who kidnapped Ana because Tess broke down over being unable to solve this kidnapping before her death. So Callie’s motives are twofold. Find out who the kidnapper is because it’s the right thing to do and the police are bumblefuck idiots, and also solve this crime so Tess can rest and the family can move on. And all at the same time, prove her sister is not a saint so the church will leave her alone.
Can I just say I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a teenage girl with all these people showing up at your door wanting you to sit and pray with them, perform miracles, etc. All over town there were shrines to Tess. It’s creepy. It’s weird. And I don’t know how people couldn’t see this. Tess’s mother was borderline abusive, forcing her daughter to dress modestly and not have any friends, especially not a boyfriend, because what would the church think? I mean, the immense pressure she was under–it’s no wonder she died. And yes, I blame the mother mostly for this, because SHE alone could have stopped it.
Thought provoking book, I will say that. I definitely recommend it. The pacing was kind of up and down in places, and I noticed my eyes glazing over when this happened, but for the most part it kept my interest and made me think. The writing was excellent as well. This is an author to watch.