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Saint X: Book summary and reviews of Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X

by Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin X
Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2020
    352 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

Hailed as a "marvel of a book" and "brilliant and unflinching," Alexis Schaitkin's stunning debut, Saint X, is a haunting portrait of grief, obsession, and the bond between two sisters never truly given the chance to know one another.

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison's body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men - employees at the resort - are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth - not only to find out what happened the night of Alison's death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

For readers of Emma Cline's The Girls and Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies, Saint X is a flawlessly drawn and deeply moving story that culminates in an emotionally powerful ending.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The complex point of view, shifting among an omniscient narrator, Emily's perspective in first person, Clive's immigrant story in close third, plus brief testimonies from myriad minor characters, works brilliantly...This killer debut is both a thriller with a vivid setting and an insightful study of race, class, and obsession." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This is a smart page-turner, both thought-provoking and effortlessly entertaining." - Publishers Weekly

"Questions of race and privilege deepen the impact of the characters' struggle, emphasizing the societal norms each individual and every nation must address for equity to become more than a mission statement or campaign slogan. Readers who enjoy a mystery with emotional depth will find this a compelling and impressive debut." - Library Journal

"Saint X is slightly miraculous. Funny, chilling, moving, and throughout, deeply intelligent. We follow Emily into the depths of her obsessive quest with fascination and, in the end, rise with her as she moves on. This is an utterly original and engrossing novel written with the surest possible hand." - Christopher Tilghman, author of Thomas and Beal in the Midi

"Here is a marvel of a book, a kaleidoscopic examination of race and privilege, family and self, told with the propulsive, kinetic focus of a crime thriller. Brilliant and unflinching, Saint X marks the debut of a stunningly gifted writer. I simply couldn't stop reading." - Chang-rae Lee, author of On Such A Full Sea

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Author Information

Alexis Schaitkin

Alexis Schaitkin's short stories and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Southwest Review, the Southern Review, the New York Times, and elsewhere. Her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and son. Saint X is her debut novel.

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