Wayward Saints: Book summary and reviews of Wayward Saints by Suzzy Roche

Wayward Saints

by Suzzy Roche

Wayward Saints
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2012
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A funny and illuminating debut novel about family, music, and second chances, from folk-rock star Suzzy Roche.

Mary Saint, the rule-breaking, troubled former lead singer of the almost-famous band Sliced Ham, has pretty much given up on music after the trauma of her band member and lover Garbagio's death seven years earlier. Instead, with the help of her best friend Thaddeus, a six-foot black transvestite with a troubled past of his own, Mary is trying her hand at making mochaccinos at the Crumb Bunny in San Francisco.

Back on the East Coast, in the tiny town of Swallow, New York, her mother, Jean Saint, struggles with her own ghosts. Both are startled when Mary is invited to give a concert at her old school, Swallow High. Mary seizes on the chance to perform again and to see her mom. Jean, of course, is thrilled to have Mary come home for the first time since she ran off at seventeen, though she's definitely worried about what Father Benedict and her neighbors will think of songs such as "Sewer Flower" and "You're a Pig." But when even her arch nemesis Adele from the Silver Tray Bakery takes notice of the upcoming concert, Jean realizes this is going to be a bigger event with bigger complications than she anticipated.

Rich with wild and quirky characters, Wayward Saints is a tender, emotionally complex, and hilarious look at how the past always bumps up against the present. Punctuated by insider pokes at the music business (written by someone who's been there), as well as loving flourishes about family, faith, and the unpredictability of talent, the novel touches on the very deep pain of loss, and the possibilities of the miraculous.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Roche's empathy for these broken souls allows readers to feel the depth of their pain and savor the novel's happier twists." - Publishers Weekly

"A great read for fans of The Roches; there are definite allusions to and pokes at the music industry here, from an insider's perspective... A well-done first outing; Roche handles sticky topics with grace." - Library Journal

"Not every dazzling musician has a novel in her, but Suzzy Roche, among all her other gifts, is a novelist, the genuine article. Wayward Saints is funny, smart, poignant, the prose so clear, so direct, so true. This book is a joy." - Jane Hamilton

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Reader Reviews

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Mary P. (Bellingham, WA)

Wayward Saints
I enjoyed Wayward Saints by Suzzy Roche, identifying with the daughter, Mary, who is trying to find her authentic voice, and her mother who is seeking to understand her daughter. Love is the thread that stitches the two together, in spite of their differences. A chain stitch, perhaps, that works for Mary and Jean, and the other relationships in the story. There is an obvious religious element in the story, not pontificating, but part of the personalities.
Perhaps someone with a firmer grounding than I would understand Jean, especially. That said Roche writes so that the reader can still feel how strongly Jean feels, and know that love is not judgmental.

Kristine L. (The Woodlands, TX)

Wayward Saints
I started the book earlier this week only to be interrupted by Thanksgiving preparations. Early this morning, I picked up the book expecting to read a few chapters...Here - hours later, I have completed the book and have enjoyed every minute. At one moment, the book reminds me of the novel "Olive Kitteradge" and at another moment it reminds me of my own inner ramblings. Certainly, an enjoyable, pleasant book about Life, Choices, Forgiveness, And Growing Up....

Gayle M. (Billerica, MA)

A very pleasant surprise
In writing a book about a former singer, it would have been easy to lean on standard cliches. Instead, Suzzy Roche delivers a book filled with interesting, three dimensional characters that you care about. The story is funny, sad, quirky and honest. I would highly recommend this book and am looking forward to Suzzy Roche’s next book.

Jane N. (Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey)

Wayward Saints
When you get past the musical references and all of the anger associated with the genre that the author is referring to in the book, this is a really great read. At it's heart it is a love story about the most difficult relationship any woman will have in her life; that is the relationship with her mother. The story of Jean Saint, the mother, and Mary Saint, the daughter is a warm and well told and should touch you deeply. Mary is the epitome of a rebellious daughter who makes the big time in spite of herself. Her fame does nothing to solve her problems with the people in her life and her life in general. In fact, her fame accentuates the problems and the methods that Mary chooses to solve them only add to her destructive modus operandi. While Mary struggles with her own demons, her mother Jean, struggles with her own. Mother and daughter are very much alike. Mary is flamboyant while Jean is passive aggressive in dealing with the life that that share. Suzy does an excellent job of weaving the two stories together. The supporting characters that Roche has created to flesh the story out are also amazing and the sub plot that she created is worth a book of its own. Thaddeus is so real and adds so much to the story that I hope he appears in Roche’s future works. This book will be enjoyed for a long time. I know that I will recommend it to my friends and my book club.

Vicki O. (Boston, MA)

A Fun Read
This book took me totally by surprise. I finished it in two days and was a little sorry to see it end. What I really liked about the book was its voice. It flowed naturally with a well balanced mix of description and dialogue. The story has a personality that is sometimes touching, sometimes humorous and almost always believable.

Sharon W. (Two Rivers, WI)

Wayward Saints
WOW! When I first started the book, I really didn't think I was going to like it. But once I got into it, I couldn't put it down till I was finished with it. Even though this was fiction, it definitely could have been real. To see what happens within a rock band, the ups and downs the good and bad. I loved it.

...27 more reader reviews

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More Information

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Along with her sisters, Maggie and Terre, Suzzy Roche is a founding member of the singing group the Roches, whose debut recording was named Album of the Year by the New York Times in 1979. She has been touring for over 30 years, appeared on SNL, the Late Show with David Letterman, and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The Roches have collaborated with Paul Simon, The Indigo Girls, Philip Glass, and Laurie Anderson. She recently teamed up with Meg Wolitzer to co-host "A Love Affair Between Words and Music" for WNYC at Symphony Space in New York, and is the creator of "Zero Church," a performance piece that has been performed all over the United States. In 2013, her first children's book will be published by Random House. Visit her website at www.roches.com.

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