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The Patron Saint of Ugly

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  677 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Born in Sweetwater, West Virginia, with a mop of flaming red hair and a map of the world rendered in port-wine stains on every surface of her body, Garnet Ferrari is used to being an outcast. With her sharp tongue, she has always known how to defend herself against bullies and aggressors, but she finds she is less adept at fending off the pilgrims who have set up a veritab ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  677 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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Pouting Always
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is about Garnet who has a port wine stain and has spent her life being the ugly child. Also her grandma starts this story about her being a saint and curing people when she's younger which continues into her adulthood and we get to read her interview with someone from Rome who came to investigate into it. I can agree that at some points the story gets a little sloppy or the writing starts to get some what immature but I still really enjoyed it. A lot of the things that happen towards t ...more
jv poore
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After chomping at the bit for months, finally, at long last, I get to tell you: I have read 2014’s Best Novel and it is The Patron Saint of Ugly. Created, crafted and chronicled by the magnificent Marie Manilla, this written work of art will capture your mind, tug your heart-strings and enrich your very essence. This is Garnet’s story, and what a tale it is. The intricacy of layers within, akin to hand-made lace: have been painstakingly woven to be lovely, seemingly delicate; but actually quite ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was so good, it was full of quirky characters. It reminded me of Daniel Wallace's stories. This is storytelling at it's finest. I am not officially reviewing it, but I have an arc. I know it's terrible to say 'this should be a movie' but I could really see this one coming to life on the big screen. A reluctant young 'ugly' saint, stained with a map of sorts on her skin has a gift to heal but this child isn't pious. Her Italian family has a troubled history, and while there is a lot of ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this book on a long travel day, having picked it on impulse from the leisure reading collection based on the striking cover. I was going for light reads and this was perfect. (Thanks Robyn!)

Garnet has been accidentally curing illness in her town since she was a young girl, despite (or maybe because of a series of marks on her skin resembling countries.) The book is written in the form of recordings she makes as a young adult, to send to the people in the Catholic church investigating whet
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Getting more than 1/2 way was like pulling teeth for me. So I refrained. It's just too slick and cute and folksy to be conceivable. And the cut of Magic Realism sliced within was the type I find the most incompatible with reason. Stereotypes reign upon all the rest.

I apologize to all those who rate this book so high. To me, not even the flow of language was decent enough to continue. Maybe I have the malocchio eye upon me.
Christine Varga
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received an advance reader copy of this book and had absolutely no idea what to expect, but I was thoroughly impressed. I accidentally put off reading this for a few days at first. I had many other books I'd been wanting to read and wasn’t sure what to expect, but man, once I got into this, I got INTO this. This book is full of crazy events and crazier characters. There is laughter, joy, sadness and the constant presence of a subtle magic. Though the story surrounds a fictional saint and inclu ...more
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Read this based on all the 5 star reviews. Really wanted to like this book but just never got into it no matter how hard I tried. ALL of the characters had a serious underlying problem that they were never able to overcome - I found it depressing. If you want quirky, I'd recommend A Man Called Ove or The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: litsy-lmpbc
Omg how I loved Garnet's Nonna!
She's what I aspire to be except a Mexican version and wearing a velour tracksuit but still very much this strong, cheeky, wine drinking Nonna.

The story itself, told through 3 female voices, tell the tale to a Vatican emissary to investigate the mystical gifts that surround the MC, Garnet Ferrari, but all Garnet wants to do is to get all these people off of her lawn and away from her so in a bid to debunk the myth, she digs deep into the family lore to give the Va
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Garnet Ferrari is the object of either extreme prejudice or adoration in her hometown of Sweetwater, West Virginia. To most of the children in town and some of the parents, she is feared and hated because she is different. To the nonnas (Italian grandmothers) and a few others, she is adored for her mystical healing powers. Although Garnet's childhood isn't ideal it is filled with family and love, but all of that quickly changes with one traumatic incident quickly followed by a horrific accident ...more
Feb 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book is highly rated, but I just couldn't get into it. No draw for me, no hook, no relatable characters. I might try to read it again in the future, but right now, it's not for me.
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-read
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

I really enjoyed this book, from the first page to the last it made me want to know everything about Garnet Ferrari and how it had come to be that she was being investigated as a saint of the Catholic church. Garnet seems an unlikely candidate for canonization, and her family certainly does not hold all of the beliefs of the Catholic church, even, arguably, Nonna, who believes with an interesting mix of Christianity and Paganism.

Garnet's life is inter
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This has easily become one of my favorite books. It is a beautiful book filled with memorable characters and places. Marie Manilla has captured a essence that is often difficult to put down in words. It is one part rural literature, one part Southern Gothic, one part Magical Realism.

The character of Garnet Ferrari maybe physically, and may I dare say emotionally scarred, but the way she tells her story gives the reader a sense that this young woman is very strong. Garnet's story, along with thos
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book turned out to be so much more than it first seemed. The story and characters evolved with every page, and there were surprises around every corner. Each turn of events made the story that much better, and truly a page-turner. I literally could not put it down! It took a little while to get into the rhythm of the book because of the first-person narrative and sometimes choppy transitions. I would encourage everyone to stick with it through the first couple chapters, once it gets going, ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
People rated this 4-1/2 stars. Maybe they can't count. Good potential -- some intriguing plot lines and characters, but kind of convoluted and a hot mess. My recommendation: Pass.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
Holy hell, no. Just no.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
AudioBook Review:
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4

A bit of a mixed review on this one I’m afraid: there were just too many characters that devolved into stereotypes for me to find them all believable or sympathetic, although personalities and actions become stereotypical for a reason – they resonate strongly with those who encounter them.

Marie Manilla is telling the story of Garnet Ferrari as she introduces us to her life story, trials and tribulations as the “different one” in her rathe
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most beautifully drawn tales I’ve had the experience to read. The characters are brought vividly to life, in often poignant, and at times humorous situations. The character of Nonna was one of my favorites, reminding me of the little small grandmother/mother we all tenderly remember. The character of Garnet is one of sadness, but also joy. You just feel for the poor girl, when she is constantly rejected by those whose love she desires most, because they consider her unattract ...more
Linda Mastellone
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Marie Manilla has created a whole world--locations, people, history--that is complete and compelling. For me, the mark of a well-developed character is that I cry when they suffer or die. And laugh when they experience joy. I laughed and cried on every page. Garnet, her grandmother, her parents, her brother all come to life as vivid as Garnet's hair or the map of the world on her body.

When I was about 10 pages away from the end, I put the book down for a day or so. I didn't w
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Garnet Ferrari was born in 1950 in Sweetwater, WV. She has a mop of flaming red hair and a map of the world rendered in port wine stains on every surface of her body. Pilgrims believe she is Saint Garnet, healer of skin ailments and maker of miracles. The Vatican sends an emissary to investigate.
The book goes back and forth in time as Garnet delves into her family’s Italian history. She’s determined to debunk the myth surrounding her “gift”. I loved this book! What great characters and what an i
Gary Lawrence
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Over the course of a number of "tapes" responding to the Vatican's questions about her life, this witty, wry narrator examines her life from an unusual vantage. Initially she (and others) are embarrassed by the port wine stains covering her body like a world map. Later, she rejects the sainthood that others want to impose on her, looking for natural causes to explain the miracles occurring around her. Nothing is as it initially seems.

Want to be a saint? Saint Garnet's tapes will convince you oth
Kimberly Sullivan
Excellent read.

I admit to being a bit 'eh' when this book was chosen for the book club I am joining. Imagine my surprise at how much I enjoyed it. The characters were well developed and carried the storyline quite well. I am by far not a religious person but found the backstory of old school Catholicism masterful. Definitely recommend this one. I was sad for it to be finished.
Marlayna Maynard
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Manilla spins a yarn that intrepidly explores difficult spiritual and family matters, while maintaining a lighthearted and quirky tone in a world where miracles happen, but are sometimes exasperating or absurd. She transcends the labels of regionalism in a unique Appalachian/Italian/Catholic/Feminist/Human perspective. This book is very special. When I finished it, I had to go out and buy cannoli to celebrate Nonna.
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This novel is interesting and entertaining. Now that I've read it I plan to listen to it on audio just to hear the Italian nonna's voice. The book is enjoyably humorous while dealing with "family troubles" and faith. I especially like the fact it shows the ethnic brew of a West Virginia town, warts and all.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
I can't say I either especially liked or disliked this novel.

It was far different from all of the other Appalachia novels I've had to read for my book group, which normally all involve coal mining, poverty, and a protagonist struggling to rise above it all. That said, I did feel UGLY was entirely too long, and too full of silly plot twists and cutesy asides.
Sonja Livingston
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great storytelling! I love the backdrop of Sicilian-Americans and saints in West Virginia. Manilla's keen observations on the nature of people and the unique geography and history/culture of the region form the backbone of the work. The lush language and magic braided into the narrative somehow make the fiction even truer. Gorgeous work. Brava!
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this book from a goodreads giveaway.

I really enjoyed this book. I a-fell in love with Garnet and her Nonna. I loved their story and how things became the way they were.

I would definitely recommend you to read it if you're looking for a little magic in your book.
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Wonderful story, and a great cast of characters! Read the book. Prepare for a wonderful journey with a fam-i-ly you will want to join.
Chantel Acevedo
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite book of 2014, hands down. I've given it as a gift a few times already. The voice is marvelous, the story delightful and tragic at turns. Wonderful stuff.
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, bought-2014, kindle
I loved Garnet, Nonna, Betty - the legends and of course the saints. Great book!
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Marie Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Prairie Schooner, Mississippi Review, and other journals. Her novels include The Patron Saint of Ugly (2014), and Shrapnel (2012), which won the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Still Life with Plums: Short Stories (2010), was a finalist for both the Weatherford Award and ForeWord Rev ...more
“Mom held me towards them. "Isn't she beautiful? Isn't she absolutely beautiful?"
Perhaps it was hormones talking; more likely, those were the words of a desperate woman who couldn't fathom the monster she had knit together in her room. But I was her monster, and if she didn't claim me, nobody would.”
“Sweetwater, West Virginia, a lowly site for a saint, but no lowlier than a straw-lined manger.” 0 likes
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