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Saint Maybe

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  10,313 ratings  ·  431 reviews
Tyler makes things look so easy that she never gets enough credit, yet she portrays everyday Americans with such humor, grace and, ultimately, emotional force that her books are always deeply satisfying. In Saint Maybe her protagonist Ian Bedloe, stricken with guilt over the death of his older brother, raises three children unrelated to him by blood. He is strengthened in...more
Published 2003 by Penguin Canada (first published 1991)
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Mike (the Paladin)
I would like to say a lot about this book, but some of it would undoubtedly contain spoilers. I had to consider carefully before rating it, it comes very close (for me) to a 5 star rating. As has been said before, were there half stars I'd go 4.5 easily here.

First, this isn't the typical type book that I usually read or that usually appeals to me. We follow Ian through most of his life, his lack of wisdom, the decisions he makes, their consequences... I picked this book up because I saw (and lik...more
Reading the back-of-the-book synopsis, I expected Saint Maybe to be a sort of grace-centered retread of 1980's Ordinary People, in which a teenager struggles to come to terms with the death of his older, "better" brother (for which he feels partially responsible) with the help of a compassionate psychiatrist. As it happened, there are some superficial parallels, but thematically it turned out to have more in common with 2007's Atonement. (And, for the record, I know that both of the films I've m...more
Reading Anne Tyler can be a daring experience. It's as if you have to endure your clothes being taken away and your bare skin exposed. Her insight is scary - and I'm sure I'm not the only reader who feels she is writing about me, my thoughts and my motivations.

Saint Maybe is at once both her most depressing yet uplifting novel. In a moment of intense frustration, a seventeen year old boy makes a mistake – he blurts out an accusation to his brother that taken in a rational light in the best of si...more
Nandakishore Varma
There is a special category of movie in India, called "Family Film": these deal entirely with matters inside a big "joint" family (where all the siblings live together with their parents in their ancestral home, either matrilineal or patrilineal). In the first quarter of the movie, something will happen to disturb the tranqulity of its existence, and the whole of the remaining is spent in resolving the issue. The movie typically has a tragicomic ending, and leaves the audience with a gooey senti...more
Marie Brian
Jul 27, 2008 Marie Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marie by: Holly
This is really an exceptional book. Every time I read a book by Tyler I am surprised by how keen she is at portraying human nature. And what really amazes me is how she can do this without judgment. Her writing is beautiful and so life-affirming. I feel better for having read Saint Maybe.


The Bedloes are a typical, all-American family living in Baltimore until a tragedy occurs. Ian Bedloe tells his brother, Danny, about some suspicions he has about his sister-in-law. Danny reacts by driving off in anger, and is killed in a car accident. Danny's wife also dies several months later, and her three children are orphaned. Ian feels enormous guilt about the death of his brother, and wishes to make amends. He goes to the Church of the Second Chance to seek forgiveness....more
Ann Tyler is amazing and yet again she didn't disappoint. I marvel at how she can let you right into that character's head space. You can feel every heartbeat.

This book is heartbreaking, comical and closer to real life than we would like to admit. If you've never read Tyler, then this is a good place to start.
Jan 31, 2014 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
It's 1965, and the Bedloes are just your average all-American family living an ideal, apple-pie existence in Baltimore, Maryland. Theirs are simple, loving, happy lives. Then, in the blink of an eye, a single tragic event occurs that will transform their lives forever - particularly that of seventeen-year-old Ian Bedloe, the youngest son, who blames himself for the sudden "accidental" death of his older brother Danny.

Depressed and depleted, Ian is almost crushed under the weight of a nearly unb...more
I read this book a long time ago and have kept it on the shelf as a good friend to revisit. But recently I listened to an abridged version. I don't usually listen to an abridgment because as a rule they are poorly done.

This rendering of Saint Maybe was no exception but the reader was John Lithgow and despite the lousy editing the greatness of the story shone through. The essential message, that we all have an impact on each other all the time, whether we want to or not. And that impact can be g...more
I like Anne Tyler, but this book didn't intrigue me. It was about a man who feels guilty because he thinks he has caused his brother's death. He quits college and takes on the responsibility of caring for his brother's baby and two other children, the children of his brother's wife, who also dies. Ian gets involved in a church that believes in second chances. He kind of goes overboard with religion and following the rules of his church. The kids turn out okay in the end. The book is all about ho...more
This book started out promisingly enough, but I felt as though Tyler lost her grip on her main character, Ian Bedloe. Ian's descent into mindless fundamentalism slides the narrative toward tedium and outright boredom. The character of Ian became for me, not just unlikeable, but boring. Two-thirds of the way through the book, Tyler devotes a considerable number of pages toward describing the house-cleaning that occurs following a supporting character's death. My response: who cares?

I first read this book because it was on a summer reading list when I was in high school, but I remembered it was one of my favorites that year. A wonderful book about how one mistake can change your life and how life is all about second chances. I love how complex Anne Tyler's characters are and it feels like you grow up with the main character of this novel.

I've since re-read this book as an adult and it is still just as powerful.
Nope. This book didn't do it for me. Frankly, I wanted to slap the main character and that's never a good sign. Guilt is a crippling emotion, but after a while Ian seemed less bound by guilt and more bound by his own stupidity. I didn't buy it for a second -- him raising three kids that weren't his and seemingly never coming to the conclusion that he just needed to snap the hell out of it already.
Ok, So this book was interesting. It was more of a "What happened happened" kind of book. It was deep, but not so deep that it hurt my brain. While I was reading it, I wondered what would have happened had Ian not decided to help his brothers kids. If he hadn't walked into that church, who's doctrine is not Biblical, what would have become of those kids? What would have become of Ian. He probably just would have gotten old doing something else and living his life and looking back at life and bei...more
I loved Anne Taylor's style of writing. I wanted to read every word. The characters were very interesting. I didn't care for the ending, in fact I almost lost interest in the last couple chapters. The chapters were way too long. What could have been a 5 ended up a 3.
Jan 20, 2008 Steven rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: insomniacs.
Good Lord! It went on and on and on and nothing ever happened. I wouldn't have finished it if it hadn't been assigned by a professor.
The books I chose to read during my teen and young adult years were predominately books written by authors like V.C. Andrews and Sidney Sheldon. My best friend gave me this novel to read and what a difference my literary world has been ever since.

Reading this novel again, over twenty years later, made me discover all over again the beauty of Anne Tyler's writing.
Alison Morgan
I LOVE Anne Tyler. Every time I sit down to write a novel (haha, that sounds really funny) I draw on Anne Tyler and Jane Austen for inspiration, because I love the way they make an ordinary person/family, and the minutiae of their daily lives, so fascinating. Argh! If only I could do that, I wouldn't have to spend tons of money and time on a law school education - I could just sit back and let the royalties roll in. Anyway, Anne Tyler as a writer is totally realistic, eccentric, funny, sad, and...more
Life is going well for eighteen-year-old Ian Bedloe. He has great parents, a girlfriend, a newlywed brother, Danny, and college in his future. But Danny’s fatal car crash darkens Ian’s world. He feels anger, guilt, and partial responsibility for what might well be his brother’s suicide.

Saint Maybe is a compelling story about different types of loss, and the ramifications of life-changing moments. The book made me want to keep reading to see what happens to Ian. I wanted him and other characters...more
Poignant, good-humoured and full of the quirky details that make up everyday life, Saint Maybe is vintage Anne Tyler. It's the story of Ian, a young man who feels he is responsible for his brother's suicide and spends the rest of his life trying to atone for what he has done, in the process giving up his own ambitions and taking responsibility for the care of his brother's step-children.

Although the majority of the narrative is seen from Ian's point of view, we also get glimpses of his world fr...more
I keep thinking about this book. An unexpected tragedy puts the main character in a position to take on an unwanted burden. He accepts he responsibility and does it ever so well, changing his life and those around him for the better.

I love Anne Tyler's books. This was different than others in that it was not about adult relationships as much as about a single character and his relationship with his parents and the children he helps to raise. The book moves along slowly, which I liked, because it...more
One of my favorite books of all time. Tyler has an unrivaled talent for describing the small details, the quiet moments, and somehow weaves an entire character's life from these seemingly small details and quiet moments. She has mastered the brushstroke technique, and this is particularly apparent in Saint Maybe. This tale of redemption focuses on Ian Bedloe, a young man who, in a moment of impatient irritation, a moment that could happen to any of us, unthinkingly causes a terrible tragedy in h...more
Anne Tyler has a way of reaching in and grabbing you by the heart and not letting go. This book, like all her others, deals with humans--real, flawed, lovely, irritating, fabulous humans--and Tyler is such a great writer that the reader forgets the characters are fictional. Tyler's easy attention to detail, the descriptions she drops casually into the book, the easy natural pace of the story, all prove that she is an incredibly adept writer, and her characters always linger in my mind long after...more
Sad but inspiring story (with a happy ending) about a young man whose impulsive actions irrevocably changes the course of his life. A good lesson in taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions but also a good lesson in knowing when to forgive yourself and move on. And the value in cleaning out your closet!
Anne Tyler does a great job of writing about somewhat ordinary people and making them very interesting. Really she just does a great job of showing how complicated everyone is, even the people that appear boring at first glance.

Danny works at a post office and Lucy walks in and contemplates whether to send a package parcel post or priority mail. And because of her choice Danny is in love. And decides to marry her.

Lucy is a mystery. She has a past but we aren't sure what it is. She comes as a pac...more
aPriL purrs 'n hisses
Anne Tyler's book opens with a description of a place: Waverly Street in Baltimore, Maryland. Everyone knows everybody else because this is 1965. We zoom down and look in on the Bedloe family, Bee and Doug, teachers and parents of Danny, Claudia, and Ian, living in a large two-story house on a street full of 'squat clapboard houses' shaded by mostly maple trees.

Ian is 17, and he will soon make a pair of decisions, both of which will haunt him for the rest of his life. One was to tell his older...more
This is a story of family and devotion, of desire and sacrifice, of sin and redemption. What do you do when you believe that you are responsible for unspeakable tragedy? If you are Ian Bedloe, you look for forgiveness, and you find it at the Church of the Second Chance. Anne Tyler masterfully creates characters that come alive on the page. By the time you have finished this novel, you will think of the Bedloe family as part of your neighborhood, or maybe,part of your family.
Terri Fleming
It's been awhile since I took the time to read a book that was more character development than action. It was a nice change. I like Anne Tyler almost as much as I like Wallace Stegner.
Nov 08, 2007 Stephanie added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those of a mature mind
When I first read this book I thought it crude, graphic and a little too much for my taste. But as life has gone on and my eyes are opened a little more with each experience, I realize just how good this book really is. It portrays life almost perfectly. Tyler does such a wonderful job at showing how quickly and hard life can hit you at any given time. It also shows how through service and sacrifice we are given a second chance.
Nicole Kary
I liked the tone of the book, and how it depicts the ordinary in life. Specifically liked her subtle humor.
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and...more
More about Anne Tyler...
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