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Saint Maybe

Saint Maybe

3.9 16
by Anne Tyler

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Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler gives us the powerfully poignant story of a young man's guilt over his brother's death and of his years of effort at atonement.

Baltimore - home of the "apple pie" Bedlow family. At 17, Ian, the youngest, has the usual dreams of the future. But he also has a secret that sparks a fatal tragedy - and from that moment on


Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler gives us the powerfully poignant story of a young man's guilt over his brother's death and of his years of effort at atonement.

Baltimore - home of the "apple pie" Bedlow family. At 17, Ian, the youngest, has the usual dreams of the future. But he also has a secret that sparks a fatal tragedy - and from that moment on, nothing in Ian's life will ever be the same as he painfully pursues redemption. His journey will begin with the Church of the Second Chance, whose philosophy is that forgiveness must be earned. It will move through the therapeutic discovery of his own creative abilities.

And finally, it will culminate in Ian's healing through the lure of big-boned Rita who burst into the Bedlow's lives and sweeps away the cobwebs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although Tyler (Breathing Lessons ; Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant ) is again writing about families--the way they cleave together in times of trouble and muddle through with stoic courage--her eminently satisfying new novel breaks her familiar mold, giving us ordinary, not eccentric characters who are shaped by disastrous events into quietly heroic behavior. The Bedloes are cheerful and count their blessings, even if they are far from rich and live on a slightly seedy street in Baltimore. But when 17-year-old Ian rashly informs his older brother Dan that the latter's wife was undoubtedly pregnant before their marriage, Dan commits suicide, and Ian is left with profound guilt--especially since Dan's wife dies soon after. Asking God's forgiveness, he receives spiritual guidance at the endearingly shabby Church of the Second Chance. He drops out of college, becomes a carpenter and helps his parents care for the three orphaned children; as the years pass, that burden falls primarily on Ian's shoulders. Wondering when God will signal that his atonement can end, Ian has an epiphany: ``You could never call it a penance, to have to care for those three.''...Since her characters' foibles never overwhelm their homespun simplicity, the reader is emotionally involved and touched as never before.
School Library Journal
All is well with the Bedloe's Baltimore family until Danny, the eldest son, announces his engagement to Lucy, a woman he has known for only two weeks and who is the mother of two small children, Agatha and Thomas. Their own daughter, Daphne, is born sooner than expected that same year. The suicides of first Danny and then Lucy are unexplained, and all but destroy the Bedloe family. While only a college freshman, Ian, Danny's younger brother, returns home to raise the orphaned children and to search for his own salvation through the Church of the Second Chance. Tyler's remarkable novel pulls at the heart strings and jogs the memories of forgotten youth. Ian's story is neither action packed nor fast moving, but each page will be eagerly anticipated. While the majority of YA readers lack enough life experiences to appreciate the pure joy of Tyler's descriptions and thoughts, not to steer them in her direction would be a shame. --Katherine Fitch, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Burke, VA
Washington Post Book World
Captivating . . . . Compelling . . . . There is a kind of magic at work in this novel.
Kirkus Reviews
Many of Tyler's principals, introverted, removed, plod around the perimeters of self like patient dray horses, so it's no surprise that her saint here—a Baltimore teen convinced that he caused not only his brother's death but the dire consequences that followed shortly after—is a deliberate and careful saint, laboring conscientiously on the narrow, plainly marked path of a fundamentalist Christian church toward expiation. One terrible night, Ian Bedloe, 19, third child of cheerful Bee and agreeable Doug (one of those Tyler men who say, "Well, now"), blurts out to brother Danny his suspicions about Danny's wife—bright-lipsticked, tiny-faced Lucy, mother of two by a divorced husband and of an infant (by Danny?). Danny, slightly drunk, drives off into a fatal accident; months later, sad and scatty Lucy dies also—after what was probably an accidental dose of sleeping pills. Clubbed by the horror of unbearable guilt, Ian is drawn to the storefront Church of the Second Chance, presided over by Reverend Emmett, undoubtedly God's agent—bony, magisterial, discovered later to be affectionately capricious. Reverend Emmett lays out the Way: forget college, provide for and rescue aging parents from the care of Lucy's kids (ages six, three, and baby) and "set things right." Ian "saw that he was beginning from scratch...as low as he could get." Years pass; Ian works as a carpenter leading a life of celibacy and service; kids mature and shape up. Where is that reward? Ian is ripe for a Sign. It comes, of course—as do love and a second chance. As always, Tyler's people—from powerless small children (whose "every waking minute was scary") to the electric, poignantLucy to the crackly little church group—are as intensely real and yet ultimately unknowable as those who somehow have changed one's life. Less accessible than some of Tyler's others, but on its own terms, perfection.

From the Publisher
"Anne Tyler, who is blessedly prolific and graced with an effortless-seeming talent at describing whole rafts of intricately individualized people, might be described as a domestic novelist, one of that great line descending from Jane Austen...Her eye is kindly, wise and versatile (an eye that you would want on your jury if you ever had to stand trial), and after going at each new set of characters with authorial eagerness and an exuberant tumble of details, she tends to arrive at a set of conclusions about them that is a sort of golden mean."

— Edward Hoagland, The New York Times

"With her extraordinary talents Anne Tyler can crush the heart with the hopelessness of life on one page and lift it with love and humor on the next. Now, in her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, she explores in one Baltimore marriage the resilient spirit that rescues us from moments of despair."

— Lee Lescaze, The Wall Street Journal

Product Details

Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.98(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but 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. Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the
Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Tyler is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore.

Brief Biography

Baltimore, Maryland
Date of Birth:
October 25, 1941
Place of Birth:
Minneapolis, Minnesota
B.A., Duke University, 1961

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Saint Maybe 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anne Tyler's novel Saint Maybe was very well written. It is one of those books that I just couldn't put down and that any reader could almost always learn something from. I thought the most effective part of the story was Tyler's use of her character Ian, whom she follows through each step in his life and shows exactly how the tragedies in his life changed his outlook. Tyler made him do soul searching, and at the end of the book after showing him working through his problems, she shows his growth and the product of his effort to forgive himself for the tragedies that he endured. The children in this story were also a key part of the story, I liked them, because I felt like they were written with a lot of realistic traits. Unlike a lot of books Tyler seemed to give these children respect even though they weren't quite adults. She treated them like equals on the same level as the other characters in the novel. I also was able to relate to the beginning of the story because of the way Tyler created the picture of an apple pie All-American family. I was really drawn into Saint Maybe because all the elements of a great book were there: an interesting plot, multi dimensional characters, and an easy to relate to theme.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a high schooler were this book was given as an assignment and I go without saying this is the best book i have read in a long time. It reads so well mixing humor and life together. It tells of a real story that can happen to anyone and of the obstacles we all face at some point in our life. If you want to read a true life book you have to read this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an extraordianary book! Anne Tyler is a great writer and I highly recommed it to other readers and other fans of this author.
Octlow More than 1 year ago
Saint Maybe; The author is Anne Tyler and she is a little quirky, not wrong but somewhat different. Her writing here reflects an extremely bright mind with the ability to take a simple premise and develop a story with depth and character. The story opens with Ian Bledsoe, a 19 year old boy who is about ready to start college, Ian’s brother Danny who is going to get married soon to women he just met, a mother who believes everything is just wonderful, and a father who is more utilitarian than accepted as a part of the family. The writer then takes us thru the next 25 years of this family’s life and the sorrow of one man, Ian, lives in. The book develops how people change our lives, some for the better, some with pain, but very little personal joy is conveyed to one another.
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jlmMN More than 1 year ago
IMHO I wouldn't spend the money to purchase this book. Even if I start a book I'll finish it hopeing it will get better. In this case it didn't
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book at least once in their lifetime!!! Its amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book is absolutely amazing. The way Anne Tyler writes is ingeneous. She touched me with her book, and at some points I even cried. There are no words to explain what I felt while reading this.....Great work Anne!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is such a beautiful book, and is one of my all time favorite of Tylers' work. It is written in that same Tylers' style (funny, witty, and down to earth), and I think (this novel) has more heart than her others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ian Bedloe, angry at an irresponsible sister-in-law, mistakenly tells his brother that his wife has been unfaithful, driving the brother to a suicidal car wreck, leading to the suicide of his sister-in-law. At the Church of the Second Chance he learns that he must abandon his promising career at the university and a compliant girlfriend to undergo the penance of raising the brother's children. His salvation comes from a vigorous young woman whose profession is helping people rid their homes--and, as it turns out, lives--of junk. But he does not achieve this grace until he has secured the children in their future. We learn that we do not walk away from things.