When The Saints by Sarah Mian

BLOG“It’s the only way to trick the devil: hide in the one place he’d never look.”

When she was a teenager, Tabby Saint was sent away by her mother to live with a different family.  It was her hope that Tabby would embark on a better life and get away from the issues that plagued the Saint family.  Ten years later, Tabby returns to Solace River, Nova Scotia and finds the family home run-down and abandoned.  She discovers where she can find her sister Poppy and in her search is reunited with her troubled family.  Drama and misfortune seem to follow the Saint family and Tabby is tempted to run and leave it all behind once more.  But sticking together could be the one thing that can lead them to a better future.

When The Saints is an engaging and well written debut novel from Canadian author Sarah Mian.  She presents a page-turning story about a dysfunctional family that has been stuck in a cycle of poverty, abuse and violence.  The novel tackles the question of whether we can overcome our circumstances, or if the same old patterns and frustrations keep us rooted in struggle and difficulty.  It also provides a great examination of complicated family relationships and the sense of duty and obligation that is difficult to shake.  The characters are flawed but relatable in so many ways.  While we may not identify with their exact struggles, we can certainly identify with their feelings of fear, frustration and hopelessness.  The novel is described as “original, gut-wrenching and incessantly hilarious.”  I would definitely agree that it is original and most certainly gut-wrenching, but I myself did not find it humorous.  It does deal with some serious subject matter such as drug use and violence that may not be suitable for everyone.  When The Saints is a wonderfully written and captivating novel.

Favourite quote: “I was so pissed off about not having a family take care of me, it never occurred to me I was getting off scot-free of taking care of them.”

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