Excerpt from The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Possibilities of Sainthood

by Donna Freitas

The Possibilities of Sainthood
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2008, 280 pages
    Aug 2010, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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Print Excerpt

Chapter One

I Pray to St. Sebastian About Gym
Class and Thank God I’m Not Named After
the Patron Saint of Snakebites

I gazed up at the familiar boy. A golden aura surrounds his beautiful, muscular body, arrows poking into him from every direction.

Poor saint, I thought to myself. I hope it doesn’t hurt. Sebastian’s stare was piercing, as if he were looking right through me. As if his gaze were another arrow pointed my way.

I closed my eyes but the image stayed. It should. The picture of St. Sebastian had been hanging on the wall in our living room for as long as I could remember, right near the old-fashioned record player my mother listened to when she was dusting all the other saint statues and figurines, her daily tribute to the men and women who watch over us. Occasionally I’d come home from school and Mom would be belting out “That’s Amore” or “Volare” in her just-off-the-boat Italian accent. I had to be careful not to bring anyone up to the apartment when I heard music playing, or they might think she was crazy. She’s a character, my mother.

But then, all Catholics are a weird bunch. Especially the Italian ones.

I opened my eyes and read quietly from my Saint Diary.

Dear St. Sebastian:

O Patron Saint of Athletes, please help me not look stupid tomorrow in gym class when we play soccer even though I am not very fast, kick the ball in the wrong direction occasionally, and sometimes forget which team I’m on. And I promise I won’t sit down out on the field this time if they make me play defense again and I get bored. Ideally, I’d like to play more like Hilary, our star soccer player (even though she is named after the Patron Saint of Snakebites). But if I can’ t be as good as Hilary, I’ll settle for just not getting picked last. And don’t forget about Mrs. Bevalaqua. It would be really great if her arthritis got better so she could walk again. Thank you, St. Sebastian, for your intercession in these matters.

I lit the worn-down pillar candle beneath sexy Sebastian and gave him a longing look, as if I could will him to step out of his frame. It was right about then that my moment alone with the half-naked, holy babe was interrupted.

“Time to get ready for bed, Antonia! It’s getting late and you have school tomorrow,” Mom yelled from the kitchen.

“I’m praying,” I called back, my voice all “Please don’t interrupt my saint time,” aware that the surest way into whatever flexibility my mother could offer was through piety.

“Five more minutes, then!”

I started to close my diary when I noticed that the corner of my St. Anthony mass card was peeling. I smoothed the edge gently, lovingly, as if I were brushing the cheek of Andy Rotellini, the boy I’d been in love with since the summer before ninth grade. A crease was beginning to mark the murky blue sky surrounding Anthony, dark against the gleam of his halo. I dipped my pinkie into the pool of hot wax around the candlewick and placed a tiny drop on the corner of the card, refastening it to the page. Below St. Anthony’s image was a pocket made of thick, red linen paper, stuffed with devotions and prayers, some on random scraps of this and that, others scribbled on colorful Post-its. Anthony’s page had more devotions than any other saint in my diary.

My Saint Diaries were my most sacred possessions.

“I’m praying, Mommy,” said a voice behind me, sing-song and catty, sending a shiver up my spine. Not the scary sort of shiver or even the good kind, but the “blech” kind you felt when you met up with something disgusting. “I’m such a good little holier-than-thou girl, Mommy,” the voice went on, its nasal tone like nails against a chalkboard.

Excerpted from THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas.
Copyright © 2008 by Donna Freitas.
Published in 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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