“Don’t worry where you’re going; you will die where you have to.”
This is a book that took me not only out of my reading comfort zone but far from my comfortable home with its central air and cozy reading chair. It took me to the border city of Juarez, a place where drugs and human trafficking are everyday life for its residents. This is a story of poverty, desperation... and selflessness. It’s where I met Arturo, and it’s where I’ll never forget him.
Arturo and Faustino grew up as close as brothers, but Faustino disappeared one day without a word to Arturo. Now, nearly a year later, he’s back; and he needs Arturo’s help. Faustino is now a part of the city’s most violent drug gang, and he has stolen $1,000 from the narcos in hopes of smuggling his girlfriend and their baby into the United States. Arturo is an expert at the game Calavera, and Faustino’s plan is to have Arturo win back his money for him.
Though it took a couple of chapters for me to really get into this story, I quickly became invested in Arturo and completely riveted by what transpires for him over the course of a day as he risks everything to help his friend. The scariest, most heart-pounding moment was when he was playing with the small amount of money he had to his name... and he began to win. What happens next is for readers to discover.
This is not a pleasant comfort read that will leave you in high spirits; but it is a timely, eye-opening, and unique young adult novel that will stay with you long after you put it down. Filled with cultural references and Mexican folk religion, Saint Death is both educational and thought-provoking. This is the kind of story that raises both awareness and empathy, and I’m very glad to have read it.
“This book is about other stories that occur over there,
across the river.
The comfortable way to deal with these stories is to say
they are about them.
The way to understand these stories is to say
they are about us.”
– Charles Bowden
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.