Sarah's Reviews > All the Crooked Saints

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
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really liked it

Here is a thing I want: To understand and listen to as many stories as I can.
Here is a thing I fear: Endings.

"Sadness is a little like darkness. They both begin the same way. A tiny, thin pool of uneasiness settles in the bottom of the gut." (45-6).

Maggie Stiefvater's "All The Crooked Saints" is a little like a lesson. They both start the same way, with words preached at you. "All The Crooked Saints" asks you to accept the elements of magical realism, the mundane and masterful characters combined as they match up the means of success and security. A lesson asks you to accept it as fact, something to move forward from and understand further aspects of the world or whatever text/form it takes.

Set in the deserted Bicho Raro, Colorado, the novel follows the Soria family and the pilgrims that visit them looking for miracles. As young Pete, with a hole in his heart, and Tony escaping recognition from the world enter the town, they are immediately shunned - interacting with pilgrims can result in the spread of darkness to the Soria family, the darkness stemming from the miracle their Saint provides. Only the younger members of the family, the solemn Beatriz, the vibrant Joaquin and the Saint himself, Daniel are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary for completing the miracles as a means of bringing peace to Bicho Raro.

"We almost always can point to that hundredth blow, but we don't always mark the ninety-nine other things that happen before we change." (195).

Stiefvater's novel is slow to begin with, as a reader attempting to come out of a slump it probably wasn't the best one to pick. Only after one hundred pages did I find myself more engaged in the story. The pacing stays as measured as Beatriz throughout a majority of the book, no major active events occurring or disaster striking in turbulent fashion. This is a novel of character and growth more than anything that provides to readers an opportunity to develop themselves and look within. It requires a level of introspection to maintain committed to the novel which is something I tend to admire in the books I read.

I was also excited when I discovered the cultural of Soria family and the frequent usages of Spanish throughout the novel. However, I have seen a range of varying opinions on how acceptable this is as a form of cultural appropriation of Latinx culture. As a white person, my understanding is limited, therefore I do feel it is important to acknowledge this in the review also, so that other future readers may know this before entering the novel (I was unaware when I started reading). Finding reviews from people who identify with the cultural background here may be best to have a more comprehensive understanding.

At its core, "All The Crooked Saints" is a really poetically written novel. Stiefvater continues a mastery of the story and offers more to readers than they may expect at first. If you're looking to learn about yourself and to encounter a miracle of sorts, this is for you. What you must remember though, is to understand what Stiefvater is trying to say, you must reach the end, and go beyond the darkness.
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Reading Progress

January 27, 2017 – Shelved
January 27, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
June 11, 2018 – Started Reading
June 11, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Thalia Halloran This is a really thoughtful and well-written review. I loved this story a ton, and as a Latina I was glad to see careful, realistic representation of my community. I think the problem in non-Latinx authors writing Latinx stories only occurs when they don’t do their research, but Stiefvater wrote her Latinx characters as regular people with a few cultural differences, which I think was remarkably well-handled. Too often, books and films portray Latinx people as “feisty, spicy, macho” people reduced to only sexuality, or rely on sombreros, tacos, and the omnipresent “ay Dios mío!” as essential cues to what we are: stereotypes with a few funny lines. We are sidekicks, or illegal immigrants, or Latin lovers, or (God help us) the maids. So it was really nice to see how delicately Stiefvater handled the Sorias with nuance and care. I also thought the choice to center the story around a Latinx family was especially smart because magical realism has its strongest roots in Latin American writing, from Gabriel García Márquez to Isabel Allende to Jorge Luis Borges.


Sarah Thalia wrote: "This is a really thoughtful and well-written review. I loved this story a ton, and as a Latina I was glad to see careful, realistic representation of my community. I think the problem in non-Latinx..."

Thank you so much for this reply Thalia! <3 This helps me with a further understanding and I hope that anyone who reads my review also reads your comment as well. I'm glad that Stiefvater offered to you a well-written and beautiful family. Thank you!


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