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Saint Maybe

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  14,935 ratings  ·  669 reviews
In 1965, the happy Bedloe family is living an ideal, apple-pie existence in Baltimore.  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.

Depressed and depleted, Ian is almost crush
Paperback, 337 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1991)
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Mell This answer may be too late, but I think Rosamunde Pilcher writes in a similar way. I love Tyler and Pilcher. They are books set in England. Winter…moreThis answer may be too late, but I think Rosamunde Pilcher writes in a similar way. I love Tyler and Pilcher. They are books set in England. Winter Solstice is her great contemporary/modern era novel. The Shellseekers is part historical and part contemporary. (less)
Mo Ringey-gareau I have read a lot of her books and, to me, this one was less engaging and riveting than the others. I found ladder of years especially to be more…moreI have read a lot of her books and, to me, this one was less engaging and riveting than the others. I found ladder of years especially to be more compelling with more fleshed-out characters. (less)

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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,935 ratings  ·  669 reviews

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May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, kindle
I've yet to read an Anne Tyler novel I haven't liked. Of the 7 I've now read, I think this is up there with A Spool of Blue Thread as one of my favorites. I adore her storytelling and characters. They are so real and well imagined, and sure, you could argue all her novels are a variation on the same thing but she approaches each one just a little bit differently. Plus they are nice to read, and that's a pleasant change. I like to imagine all her characters existing in the same Baltimore univers ...more
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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
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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Reading the first couple of chapters (which make up almost 25% of the book's length), I thought, "this is the darkest Anne Tyler I've ever read." I didn't know in those first chapters who would turn out to be the main character of the novel. I can truthfully say I was happy with her choice.

Tyler's main characters usually have a life problem to resolve. What I like most about her novels is the creativeness she employs in giving them a means of resolution. I also like that there are characters who
Marie Brian
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.

(АААА, первый раз в жизни гудридз не сохранил мой отзыв!
Но ничего, я постараюсь и напишу еще, хоть и покороче.)

I cannot help but give this book 5 stars: it's completely unremarkable but I can't find a single flaw to it.

There are people. There are people they love. Some of them live, some die. Some do stuff, the others don't. Some go to church. They seek peace and forgiveness. They'd welcome happiness but they are a bit too lazy to actively pursue it.

To me, Anne Tyler's books are the definit
Richard Moss
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Saint Maybe is quintessential Anne Tyler: a quirky, but affectionately-drawn family has to deal with a tragedy that sends ripples through their lives over many years.

It is also quintessential in being brilliantly written and compelling from first to last.

As i read more Tyler, I keep thinking that perhaps the similarity of some of the scenarios may make her work pall, but to date any doubts have been swept away by her ability to tell a story and draw characters in a humane and convincing way.


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.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
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?

Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This story written by anyone else but Anne Tyler would be garbage. This is a tale of an ordinary family with relatively ordinary problems - yet told in a way that kept my interest as well as a "can't put it down" thriller. Tyler's books contain some of the best character studies I've ever read - her insights into the human psyche never cease to amaze me! I realized when trying to place this book on my virtual Goodreads bookshelves, that Anne Tyler really needs a category of her own. There's noth ...more
Oct 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
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.
Who knew there's so much that can happen to the ideal, normal-but-quirky family? Apparently Anne Tyler.

Masterfully crafted and exquisitely detailed, the splendor is more than just a seemingly simple family changed by a tragic event. The layers of the story are not elaborate, yet rich and breathtaking in its characters and themes. It's perfect if you're looking for something deep. A real piece of beauty here, imho, and a rare read.
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 30, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
What happens when you're the kind of person who feels everlasting guilt for something that surely sucks but wasn't intentional yet you're living as if you purposely killed someone ??
That's how I felt what Saint Maybe was about, the heart of it.
We have the Bedloe Family in the 60's where things are all Leave It To Beaver until it's not. We have the Elder Bedloe's and their three children, Danny Ian and Claudia. The story is about Ian, the youngest (surprise) child who's biggest conc
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Alison Morgan
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Petite Clementine
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Engrossing, moving, and thoroughly sentimental.

This novel is not perfect in the least, but it is unquestionably something to think about. Even middle class, white, wholesome families inhabiting the all-American suburbia have depth to them (is primarily what I gained from this story). Well-fleshed people, not characters, are what comprise this story--something not many other novels that I have read can boast.

Side-note: the Middle Eastern foreigners are a static (but absolutely hilarious!) additi
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another Baltimore set family saga - so typical it's Anne Tyler territory, but nonetheless as usual a great read. I have read a lot of Anne Tyler and this one is particularly strong - definitely one not to miss!
Jan 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The kind of novel you spend a bit of time with and really get to feel like you know these characters. And I like that, it feels almost old fashioned but Tyler puts you in there and it feels pretty real. I also love that she offers no easy answers, this isn't a novel 'about' anything, but by covering so much ground she gives us a perspective on the passage of time and how maybe everything matters, redemption takes time. I loved Daphne, and felt properly invested in Ian's life.. Also, great title.
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Goodreads Librari...: Move ISBN to newest edition 5 21 Apr 10, 2018 12:01PM  
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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. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964). Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member ...more
“Peculiar, isn’t it?” he said. “First you’re scolding your children and then all at once they’re so smart they’re scolding you.” 1 likes
“View your burden as a gift. It’s the theme that has been given you to work with. Accept that, and lean into it. This is the only life you’ll have.” 0 likes
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