Summary and book reviews of The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas

The Possibilities of Sainthood

by Donna Freitas

The Possibilities of Sainthood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2008, 280 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2010, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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About this Book

Book Summary

Antonia Lucia Labella has two secrets: at fifteen, she’s still waiting for her first kiss, and she wants to be a saint. An official one. Unfortunately, the two events Antonia’s prayed for seem equally unlikely to happen...

Antonia Lucia Labella has two secrets: at fifteen, she’s still waiting for her first kiss, and she wants to be a saint. An official one. Seem strange? Well, to Antonia, saints are royalty, and she wants her chance at being a princess. All her life she’s kept company with these kings and queens of small favors, knowing exactly whom to pray to on every occasion. Unfortunately, the two events Antonia’s prayed for seem equally unlikely to happen. It’s not for lack of trying. For how long has she been hoping to gain the attention of the love of her life – the tall, dark, andso good-looking Andy Rotellini? Too long to mention. And every month for the last eight years, Antonia has sent a petition to the Vatican proposing a new patron saint and bravely offering herself for the post. So what if she’s not dead?

But as Antonia learns, in matters of the heart and sainthood, things are about as straightforward as wound-up linguini, and sometimes you need to recognize the signs.

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The book opens with Antonia’s letter to the Vatican offering herself as the Patron Saint of Figs and Fig Trees. Reread the letter and make a list of the things you know or assume about Antonia from the start. After you finish reading the book, go back over the list. Was your perception of Antonia on target?

  2. If you were to be a patron saint, what would your specialization be? Write a letter making your case and e-mail it to saint2b@live.com.

  3. Discuss Antonia’s two main aspirations (to become the first living saint and to get her first kiss from the right boy). On the surface, these goals seem very different, but do they have anything in common? What are your aspirations?

  4. In the beginning of the book, Antonia introduces ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Freitas is freshest and most interesting when writing about people who aren't Italian and issues that are not related to Catholic saints.  While the first generation Italians are painfully stereotypical, Antonia is finely drawn - she has an earthy liveliness, an amusing lack of self-knowledge, a distinct voice and a charming yearning for experiencing life, especially a perfect first kiss.

I'm not sure Freitas needed to suspend the laws of nature and include miracles of the strictly religious and extravagant sort. The Labella's fig trees, Antonia's youthful energy, the generosity of her friends, her mother's love and fresh pasta, and, of course, her first kiss, are miraculous enough.

Grandmothers, mothers and daughters will enjoy sharing this comic story of a miraculous first romance.   (Reviewed by Jo Perry).

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Media Reviews

School Library Journal

Starred Review. She takes her religion seriously, without proselytizing. With a satisfying ending, this novel about the realistic struggles of a chaste teen is a great addition to all collections. Gr 7+.

Booklist

Starred Review. First-time novelist Freitas hops into the romance genre and brightens and heightens it by providing characters who are anything but run-of-the-mill.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. While getting at serious issues, Freitas (author of Killing the Imposter God and a frequent contributor to PW) wins readers over with a beautifully sustained light touch. Ages 12-up.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Like good homemade pasta, this satisfying novel balances lightness with substance and leaves teens wanting another serving.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Contemporary Saints
Los Angeles artist J. Michael Walker thinks a lot like Antonia Labella, heroine of The Possibilities of Sainthood. In the summer of 2008 he exhibited a series of large portraits of saints whose names are commemorated in the roads and streets of many Los Angeles neighborhoods. Each large, ink on paper portrait portrays a contemporary person as one of the saints of the City of the Angels. The portraits connect the individual stories with the histories of saints, and blend the quotidian and the miraculous.

For his paintings, Walker researched not just the Catholic saints but the 103 L.A. streets which have been named after them. In this way he created a spiritual history of the ...

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