Saint X

Saint X

by Alexis Schaitkin


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When you lose the person who is most essential to you, who do you become?

Recommended by Entertainment Weekly, included in Good Morning America's 20 Books We're Excited for in 2020 & named as one of Vogue's Best Books to Read This Winter, Bustle's Most Anticipated Books of February 2020, and O Magazine's 14 of the Best Books to Read This February!

“Richly atmospheric and irresistibly suspenseful." – Joyce Carol Oates

Hailed as a “marvel of a book” and “brilliant and unflinching,” Alexis Schaitkin’s stunning debut, Saint X, is a haunting portrait of grief, obsession, and the bond between two sisters never truly given the chance to know one another.

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local menemployees at the resortare arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truthnot only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

For readers of Emma Cline’s The Girls and Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Saint X is a flawlessly drawn and deeply moving story that culminates in an emotionally powerful ending.

“Here is a marvel of a book, a kaleidoscopic examination of race and privilege, family and self, told with the propulsive, kinetic focus of a crime thriller. Brilliant and unflinching, Saint X marks the debut of a stunningly gifted writer. I simply couldn’t stop reading."

–Chang-rae Lee, author of On Such A Full Sea

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250219596
Publisher: Celadon Books
Publication date: 02/18/2020
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 170
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Alexis Schaitkin’s short stories and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Southwest Review, The Southern Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and son. Saint X is her debut novel.

Reading Group Guide

1. What does the island setting contribute to the story? What about the juxtaposition of New York City?

2. What do you think Claire’s habit of writing words in the air with her finger demonstrates about her?

3. What’s the symbolism of Faraway Cay and the woman with hooves for feet? What does that mythology add to the story?

4. Why do you think the author chose to intersperse the voices of minor characters, such as the movie actor and other vacationers, throughout the book? What effect does this achieve?

5. What does Claire’s name change to Emily signify to you?

6. Did you ever think Clive might pose a threat to Emily when he found out who she was?

7. What does Clive’s nickname Gogo indicate about his personality? About Edwin’s?

8. Emily’s world in New York becomes very small after she encounters Clive. Do you think that was intentional or unintentional on her part? What might have motivated her to turn inward?

9. What do Alison’s recorded diary entries reveal to Emily? Was Emily right to listen to them, or do you think it was an invasion of privacy? What about their mom?

10. What are the similarities between Emily’s life in New York and Clive’s? What are the differences?

11. What do you think about Edwin’s relationship with Sara?

12. Alison witnessed a pivotal moment in Clive and Edwin’s relationship. How did that shape the rest of the narrative—Clive and Edwin’s relationship, their futures, Alison’s tragedy?

13. When Emily learns the truth, and remembers the night before Alison disappeared, what do you think is her primary emotion? Grief? Relief? Guilt? Something else?

14. Do you think Emily coming into Clive’s life was ultimately a bad thing or a good thing for Clive?

Customer Reviews

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Saint X 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous 4 days ago
When I began reading Saint X I was caught up in the underlying mystery of Allison, the sister who has gone missing. But quickly you realize that this novel is much more than that. It’s a haunting and beautiful commentary on who we are when the person we are closest with is no loner with us. Following the characters of Claire/Emily and Clive the author shows what happened to their lives over the years since the island’s tragedy. Schaitkin is masterful with her descriptions of the setting and the characters and you begin to really forget about the mystery and focus on their needs and lives. Some folks have said this novel is a thriller. It is not. It’s so much more than that. You’ll savor each page and won’t want to rip through this. Book clubs will have a ton to discuss. Mine will be reading it in March. Can’t wait.
RebeccaReadsBooks 4 days ago
I am glad that I had the opportunity to read this entire book because the hints of problems in paradise had been intriguing from the very start. If - like me- you are not immediately drawn in to the story on the first four pages, keep reading. The description of the geographical features of the island might seem stilted, but then the plot kicks in! It wasn't until the family member were introduced that I started to pay attention. I am glad that I had the opportunity to read the entire book because the hints of problems in paradise were intriguing. Alison, home from her first four months of college, is sort of a stereotypical young adult who would rather be with friends than her parents, even when it's an exotic and seemingly quite expensive island. Yet, Alison's interactions with much younger sister Claire seem contradictory. Readers no sooner start to think that perhaps they've judged Alison too harshly when her sudden sitting up from her beach towel and flirtatious patting of her hair to the resort's beach attendant again hint at trouble. There are troublesome descriptions of other family members as well. For example, why is the father so disenchanted just because a sand sifting machine is used on the beach to tidy it up each morning? This book is more than just a trouble-with-college-age-daughter tale, and book clubs will have plenty of social commentary material. Here are some of the reading guide questions that came to my mind as I read. WARNING-- some of these questions may need a SPOILER ALERT: ************************************************* 1. What was your reaction when you learned the origin of Clive's nickname of "Gogo" ? 2. Were you bothered by the reaction of Alison and Claire's father when he learned that seaweed and other debris had to be cleaned off the sand each morning? What is it about his reaction that bothers the reader -or does it? 3. Were there any points in the book that seemed like turning points in the action or even the climax which turned out to just be rising action/ increasing tension? What were they? If you are unsure, what about the last page right before the chpater titled "Gogo" ? 4. Discuss the significance of Mr. Conti's high school memories as one of Alison's teachers. 5. What thoughts did you have on page 178, the chapter titled "Voices," when Alison makes an observation on her mother and their gardener? 6. There seem to be many passages in this book that relate to or are a commentary on friendship. Did you note any pages? Whether yes or no, ,look at the following pages and discuss: 86, 91, 126 7. What is your opinion of Thanatourism/ Homicide Tourism? 8. What is it that Claire is falling under the grip of, as she mentions at the end of page 146 (the last page in the chapter titled "Evidence")? 9. What are some of the differences between an ideal vacation destination and a place to live permanently, as mentioned on age 263. 10. Did you expect more intervention or action from the woman who cooked the pepper pot stew? What were some of the things you thought might happen? Why is she important to the story?
Katie__B 4 days ago
4.5 stars Ooh, this was a good one! The book is being compared to Emma Cline’s The Girls, and Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, and since I haven't read either of those books, I have no idea if that is a fair comparison or not. While reading this book though I kept getting Celeste Ng vibes to the story so if you like that author, I recommend reading Saint X. During a family vacation on the Caribbean island of Saint X, college student, Alison, goes missing. A few days later her body is found and two male resort employees are arrested. It's a huge story in the United States and the mystery deepens when the men are released because the evidence against them is flimsy. Alison's seven year old sister, Claire, and her parents return home, heartbroken and devastated. Years later, Claire wants answers as to what exactly happened the night of her sister's death. I went a bit light on my synopsis because I almost think the publisher's synopsis gives away too much. Such a significant part of the story is Claire and her desire to learn more about her sister and everything that happened on the island and I feel like as a reader you need to watch everything unfold naturally in order to get the most out of the book. There's obviously a mystery element to the story but that part was almost secondary to me as Claire herself was the driving force. The aftermath of her sister's death and how it affected Claire and her family was the heart of the story for me. However, what makes this book special is the fact that each reader might cling to something different from the story. The author does show the perspectives from time to time of other characters and without getting into spoilers, some readers might find the strength of the story to be in the chapters towards the end of the book. There's lots of themes the author explores and the fact this is her debut novel is rather impressive. It's good people, I highly recommend checking this one out! Thank you to Celadon Books for sending me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review!
Rachel_Denise01 4 days ago
Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin is a fabulous, gripping, and intricate thriller that has a dash of mystery thrown in to top off this delightful read. There are several things that I love about this book: 1. I enjoyed the initial premise of the mystery surrounding the disappearance and loss of Claire’s big sister, Alison, and the questions that are presented secondary her death. 2. I find it fascinating that while I was initially drawn into the book due to the initial plot, I found that that is only a fraction of the journey through this book. One finds themes presented that take the reader through not only the young girl’s death, but also the aftermath: what happens to the interrogated, what happens to the family members after such a devastating and tragic loss, how one copes with not only a murder of a loved one, but also a murder that does not have an answer, and what happens/how said events affect individuals long-term. 3. I enjoyed the pace of the book, the twists and turns, and I was satisfied with the ending. 4. I also actually enjoyed (in a way) disliking some of the characters ( adult Claire and Alison). To find them imperfect, spoiled, and selfish made them more real to me. 5. I enjoyed being able to read alternate points of view, not only from Claire and Clive, but also little snippets from other characters as well. It gave the reader a better, well-rounded peak into this story. 6. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the landscapes of this imagined island in the Caribbean and of NYC. The author was able to actually create an image so that I actually felt as if I was there. This is an excellent book that weaved a complicated and intricate tale that kept me interested till the end. Yes, this is a murder/mystery/thriller, but the author was able to add so much more. And that, ladies and gentlemen sets this book apart from others and will keep it fresh in my mind for many months to come. Excellent 5/5 stars.
sjillis 4 days ago
The Thomas family is vacationing at a resort on Saint X. On the last night of their stay, eighteen-year-old Alison goes missing. A few days later her body is found on Faraway Cay. Although two young employees at the resort are arrested, they are released due to lack of evidence. Twenty years later, the elder Thomases have relocated to California, while their younger daughter, Emily (née Claire), is working in New York. One fateful day, Emily gets in a taxi and recognizes the name of the driver—Clive—one of the men accused of murdering her sister. She embarks on a journey of discovery, proving that she has never healed from her sister’s death. As her curiosity becomes obsession, she learns more about her sister, parents, and herself. Saint X defies expectations. It shows the tragedy of conceits—particularly among young people, who care so much about how others see them. Clive is a tragic hero, who lets things happen to him. And Saint X, a fictional Caribbean island, is an evocative setting that shows how those conceits impact the trajectory of a region and its inhabitants. #SaintX
booksta 3 days ago
It starts off with transporting the reader to a beautiful island and relaxing life on a beautiful tropical island. The descriptions literally whisk you away immediately setting you to plan your next tropical vacation. Though it starts off as an island mystery with the death of Alison but it is all about how all the people are affected with the death and how they grieve throughout the rest of their lives due to that particular incident. Claire, after almost two decades meets Clive who used to work in the resort when her sister, Alison, was found dead as a NewYork taxi driver now. Then she starts off on a quest to find out what truly happened on that fateful day and uncovers quite a few secrets but it is truly more about her coming out of grief over her sister’s death. I also felt it could have been 100 pages shorter and succeeded in relaying the same plot. The ending was emotional for sure but for a mystery fan, it can feel anticlimactic as it is not a mystery book. Thank you to Celadon Books for the gifted advanced copy.
Anonymous 4 days ago
I LOVED Saint X. I really fell down the rabbit hole with Claire, one of the main narrators, as she starts uncovering facts and stories about her sister, who was found dead on a family vacation 18 years earlier. But the character I really felt for was Clive, an NYC taxi cab driver, who had been working at the Caribbean resort where Claire's sister went missing. He had been with the girl on the night she died, and Claire befriends him trying to piece together what happened. I really had to sit and think about the story for a while after finishing it – it was that good.
Anonymous 4 days ago
Shoeguru 4 days ago
I loved the overall atmosphere of this book. It was a made up island, however really supported what happened to Allison and gave you a first hand knowledge of how life was lived on as island. I liked that the event occurred first and that the book went back and forth between characters as Claire first met up with Clive in New York where he went when accusations forced him from the island. Claire becomes immersed in finding out what happened to her sister almost eighteen years ago to the point that it greatly disrupts her own life. She develops feelings for Clive although she is trying to find out if he was involved with the murder of her sister. Clive is able to figure out what is happening and just feels the force of accusation and is thrown back into the past. The emotion and story in this book is amazing and is definitely different from any that I have read before.
ojoausana 7 hours ago
*received for free from netgalley for honest review* Was lucky enough to get this for free after seeing it on BookishFirst and wanting to read the whole book, I had seen the book previously on GoodReads but it was a soso book for me as a To Be Read in the first place. This book was odd, and not what I thought it was. at first I had little interest, read the first few chapters, was hooked, interest dropped off, and was hard to pick back up partially because of the layout but that might have been due to it being an advanced copy but it made it hard to tell when the point of view switched which was annoying and odd but not a total deal breaker so I bumped the score up to a 4 from a 3.5. I also liked most of the characters and liked how the characters had growth, that's super great ngl!
Shelley-S-Reviewer 2 days ago
A genius of storytelling that’s not unfamiliar but so incredibly well done, you’ll feel like a character inside the story. Alexis Schaitkin has a gift, for sure, and she’s delivered a big one in the pages of Saint X. Definitely felt emotionally involved in the story and I cared what happened to the cast of players as there was such wonderful character development and the vivid imagery was captivating and kept me wondering how this was going to end. Every literary nuance is ticked: characters are highly developed, dialogue is cracking good, the plot lines and storytelling weave together at such a pace that these 350+ pages feel like a short story and race by at break neck speed; I’m exhausted. Rarely do I reread a book but this one would be on the list - even knowing the outcome, it would be worth it just to take the ride again.
AnneWB 3 days ago
Thank you so much to @CeladonBooks for gifting me an arc of Saint X {#partner, #CeladonReads}. This comes out February 18, 2020. This took me a while to read because I did not like the writing style. The characters didn’t have names so they would say things like, the mother said, the father said, the actors girlfriend, so it was really annoying. It made me put the book down many times. As soon as I got done with the first chapter/part, the writing style changed and I started reading it faster. It got me hooked and I couldn’t stop until I finished. I loved learning all about Alison and Clive. Who they really were. Overall, I enjoyed reading this. I don’t want to say too much because I do think you should go into this book not knowing too much. This book touched on more than I was expecting in a deeper way. Even though it took me a while to get it, the rest of the story made up for the first chapter.
Shobizreads 3 days ago
Thank you Celadon books & Bookish First for the advanced reader edition of Saint X in exchange for my honest review. In Saint X, we find a mystery - Allison Thomas has disappeared only to be discovered dead a few days later. She and her family were vacationing in the Caribbean and what seemed like an idyllic vacation ended fatally for Allison. This book chronicles the characters involved and her much younger sister's diving into the details of that week and Allison's life in an effort to understand what happened. This book was marketed as a thriller so I was surprised to find out that it didn't read like a thriller but instead a multiple point of view story with everyone wondering what had happened to Allison. Overall, it was a slow read and it took me a solid 100 pages to really get interested in what was going on - there was no giant reveal at the end, more of a logical conclusion to what happened. This book tried to go after a lot of themes: rich vs poor, racism, sexuality, and more but it was almost too many things and I don't think any of them were executed really well. Given that we didn't hear from Allison directly, it was hard to tell what her motivations were and she seemed pretty unlikeable by the end of this story. Her sister's quest to find out what happened teetered and then spilled over into what I would call an unhealthy obsession. This felt like a ripped from the headlines story (like Natalee Holloway). It did bring up some interesting views into a family's recovering or living after this type of tragedy, the lasting effects/changes for everyone involved and some interesting character development. Overall, it just fell flat to me and was too long.
Angie0184 3 days ago
I'm leaving this at a 3, because while it wasn't my flavor of tea, it was still pretty beautifully written. If you're looking for a fast paced whodunnit, this ain't it. It's a slow burn that takes a look at Claire, a 7 year old who lost her sister to (homicide, an accident?) while on a private resort vacation. While I could call the writing sublime, it was ultimately kinda pointless and nothing like I was anticipating. This book could have been halved and told the same story. I skimmed the last 20 pages because I just couldnt stand to have this same island described for the 40th time.
LaurenLS 3 days ago
“…There is nothing the truth can give you that you cannot give yourself… in the end, you just have to decide. To live. To continue.” Above all, Alexis Schaitkin’s 'Saint X' is an exploration of how one singular event can reverberate in the most interesting and unpredictable ways. Claire was only seven when her 18-year-old sister, Alison, disappears on the island of Saint X. Years later, Claire has a chance interaction with one of the men who may have been involved. As she begins to become increasingly obsessed with this man and his secrets, her own ability to cope with her sister’s loss becomes untenable. This novel is so much more than just its seminal event. It’s a whodunit, wrapped in a coming-of-age story, bound with threads of white privilege, implicit biases, and the comforts and complacency that come from socioeconomic privilege. It posits various ways that individuals process and deal with trauma and deceit. There are so many delicious layers to this story, so many truths, so many perspectives, and the narrative unfolds in an enthralling way. In my opinion, 'Saint X' is a triumphant debut. I cannot wait to read what Schaitkin comes up with next. **Thank you to NetGalley and Celadon Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.**
Lesliehorton 3 days ago
This book is quite different than what I expected. Not nearly as “high octane” as most thrillers but I liked it a lot. Beginning story reminds me of the Natalie Holloway story but much different. The plot runs through a death of a teenager on an island vacation. Thee is a who dun it aspect, but the relationships and characters take center stage The book focuses on the younger sister and one of the accused island boys and their lives after the murder. I thought the book was a bit wordy and seemed longer than it was. I would definitely recommend it anyway! Otherwise 5 stars ⭐️ would be appropriate. Celadon Books is my favorite publisher. They really do their research. I’ve read this one, Silent Patient, and A Nearly Normal Family, my favorite this year. Thank you for the ARC. It was given with no promise of a favorable review.
VolunteerVal 3 days ago
“For, whether we’re aware of it or not, we are always living in the aftermath of something.” - Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin This debut novel drew me in with its striking cover and intriguing first chapter. While on a tropical vacation, a family experiences an unthinkable tragedy - their 19-year-old daughter goes missing and is later found dead. The rest of the novel is told from the point of view of the family's younger daughter, age 6 at the time of her sister's death. I read a wide array of books, from literary fiction to pulpy thrillers ... but I didn’t enjoy this one. I couldn’t relate to any of the characters, and I wasn’t sure what this novel was trying to be: coming of age story? thriller? literary fiction? character study? I hoped the ending would clarify things, but the revelations near the conclusion just caused more confusion.
DG_Reads 3 days ago
When Claire is seven years old her family takes a tropical vacation on the Caribbean island of Saint X. On the last night of their resort stay Claire’s older sister Alison disappears. Alison is found dead several days later and two employees at the resort are accused of her murder. Without any evidence against them they are released and the murder remains unsolved. Many years later, Claire is now all grown up though her sister’s death still haunts her. Claire is living in New York when she happens to run into Clive, one of the men who was accused in her sister’s death. She becomes obsessed with her sister’s life and death, following Clive around New York and delving into the journals her sister left behind. She is determined to find out answers to all of her unanswered questions. This book begins with some beautiful descriptions of the island of Saint X and the resort life. Initially the book gives a very strong sense of the place where Alison’s death takes place. I really enjoyed the author’s descriptive language and the background she creates for the characters. While the primary focus is on Claire’s POV, the author shifts between multiple POVs (which is assisted in audio by the use of a very large cast of narrators). At times I felt that there may have been a few too many perspectives, some of my favorite parts of the novel were hearing about Clive’s history. We get to hear quite a bit about his early life and his relationship with his childhood friend, the man accused along with Clive in Alison’s death. While there were some portions of the story that I did enjoy, overall it felt like the novel was taking on too many perspectives and this at times made the narrative hard to follow. Though this comes up with mystery and thriller genre tags, it really is more of a character study of the various players. For me, this wasn’t a mystery with a satisfying reveal in the end. I was left with some mixed feelings on this one, but it definitely had an interesting premise that drew me in.
Monicareents625 4 days ago
I want to start with a thank you to Macmillan Audio for gifting an audio copy of this book to me. What an engrossing book to listen to! Being put inside the head of someone who is grieving and trying to make sense of tragic events is just as frightening as it is captivating, and that is exactly what the author has done. The characters are well fleshed out and relatable. The pace of the story works perfectly for the plot, revealing a little at a time, making this a masterfully written read. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a suspenseful, slow burn mystery. Saint X may be a debut novel, but it reads as though crafted by a seasoned author. Highly recommend!
Felicia_Medina 4 days ago
Before I begin my review I would first like to ask everyone to stand for a slow clap in reverence for Celadon Books. The new voices they are presenting to the literary world are beyond compare. I've no doubt that all of my friends on Goodreads Island of Misfit Readers has AT LEAST one of their authors books on their Best of 2019 list. So, kudos Celadon, you've made mine and many others year in books among the best yet. Ahem, ok here we go... _____________________ Simply stated, Alexis Schaitkin was born to be a writer. Schaitkin chose to open up this story using a third-person objective POV and it was a phenomenal choice. I felt like a literal fly on the wall as I took my first taste of the characters in Saint X. From there I have somewhat bipolar feelings about this story. I loved the seamless weaving of the multiple plotlines along with the random chapters featuring POV's from peripheral characters. However, I didn't care for any of the characters themselves. I never felt any real affection or aversion towards any of them. I loved that the author chose to build a fictional island for this story. I had no trouble picturing the resort with it's privileged clientele and the surrounding destitution just beyond it's lily white walls. However, I was lulled to sleep by the over descriptive world building when it came to the NYC scenes. Maybe if you're a New Yorker this would appeal to you but for me it was relentless drivel. For me, the most affecting part of this story isn't the grief or obsession that is at the heart of the story. It is the underlying messages about race and privilege. I saw myself in the thoughts and actions of this overindulged white family. Things I've said and done in an attempt to show how "woke" I am only succeeded in showing my complete and utter ignorance. Schaitkin has given me an entirely new perspective and shaken and changed me in a profound way. Isn't that what great writing is supposed to do? * I recieved an ARC in exchange for an honest review. *
biancabuysbooks 4 days ago
Just over a week until release day for Saint X! This definitely wasn't your typical thriller, Alexis Schaitkin's words are so vivid they transport you directly to the setting, whether it's the tropical oasis of Saint X or the rainy and cold streets of New York. I enjoyed hearing from so many different character perspectives, it offers a different connection to everyone. I never considered how the tragedy affects so many people who weren't necessarily close to the situation. This was a heartbreaking story and I felt for so many different people in it, eagerly wanting them to find the resolution and closure they were searching for. I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks when this is released and I think it was a great debut novel from Alexis Schaitkin.
ElleRudy 4 days ago
This has been one of my most anticipated 2020 releases for quite a while! The cover is what first drew me in, but the blurb is what hooked me. In the winter of 1995 we meet the Thomas family, consisting of Alison, Claire and their parents on a family vacation in the Caribbean. Very quickly you get a feel for the family dynamics and mood of the trip. There’s a significant age gap between the sisters, the family comes from wealth and privilege, etc. Their parents act as most people who can afford luxury resort holidays do: searching for a vague sense of ‘authenticity’, but unwilling and unable to accept accommodation less than they’re accustomed to. When Alison disappears and is discovered several days later, there’s an added layer of outrage. This type of thing just doesn’t happen to people like them. To girls like Alison. But it feels like that’s all we hear about, doesn’t it? Perhaps I’m not the only one who noticed several beats of this story line up with some we’ve heard before. The first one that comes to mind is Natalee Holloway—missing 18 year-old American girl, one white & two non-white suspects, Caribbean island vacation—but there’s one huge difference so far: a body. The Natalee Holloway case is one of the most dissected investigations I can remember being flashed all over television, and with some of the fewest concrete answers. That’s the one thing I wanted going into this book, more than the Aruban shoulder shrug we got with her. Though it’s a little more complicated than that, as it turns out. This isn’t the story of a hard-fought battle for justice against some deranged killer. That’s probably where some other reviews were marked down a star; this is a novel, not a thriller. It’s built on the back of a mystery, but that’s not the route that Alexis Schaitkin decides to pursue. There’s an examination of trauma and how we respond to sudden loss. A lot of time is spent with coping and deciding if a person can really ‘start over’. We see how media narratives twist and bend someone else’s misfortune to fit whatever bill they’re trying to sell. People project themselves onto tragic figures and they immortalize them in ways that are different from how they really were. One of the subjects Schaitkin scrutinizes well is how race, privilege and prejudice can cast people into roles they don’t align with. You just can’t divorce one from the other in cases like this. One victim in one tragedy can ripple out and create new ones. The author doesn’t shy away from the unfairness of it all, she leans into it. In the same breath a victim can be scrutinized and blamed for her own death, but her alleged assailant can be villainized to the point where you are expecting to see him with fangs and horns. If you’re wondering if there’s some sort of conclusion, if the initial question is resolved, I’d say yes, at least in the ways that matter. There’s a lot left unsaid and seemingly unfinished, but that’s intentional. Not much in life gets a perfectly plotted ending where you have some touching last words, drive off into the sunset or solve the problem to immense personal satisfaction. “With the truth we will do what, become what? And in gaining the truth, what do we lose?”
Booksnpugs 4 days ago
Gorgeous cover and I received this book with palm tree cocktail stirrers, very tropical! Wow what a great debut! It's beautifully written surrounding a tragic event. "Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men–employees at the resort–are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives." Years later Claire befriends one of the men suspected of murdering Alison. This is a page turner with a few twists! Thank you to Celadon Books for the ARC.
HayleyWood 4 days ago
This book was very enjoyable. The obsession was intense and I totally empathized with Clarke. What I didn’t like was we still didn’t know how Alison died- it would had been nice to see that. Somehow this super self involved girl, Alison, managed to emotionally screw with everyone who knew her. Just by her brash upfront personality. She was not very nice and this is found out throughout the book. The one person she cared for most, her sister, she even was rude towards behind her back. But maybe this was just an age gap of 10 years between siblings. Also, Claire had a major issue that was never addressed by the parents, outside just yelling at her to stop. The parents were obsessed with Alison, and treated Claire like the spare child. What I liked- I thought the insight chapter insights from the guests effected by Alison’s death really added to the story. Also- the recorded diary tapes!
lizzierva 4 days ago
So I have been mulling over this book for a about a week since finishing it. I have been trying to figure out my exact feelings on it. I am going to go with 3.5 stars. I was all in on this one, once I read the blurb and an excerpt. While on vacation on Saint X, the body of young Alison is found dead. Several years later, her younger sister Claire is determined to find out what really happened to her sister Alison on that island. I had a hard time in the beginning of the book. It was almost an over wordy description of the island, everyone on it, and what they were all doing. It was also told almost as setting the stage for the show to come. And then the show came. Once I got past the beginning and the descriptions, I was involved enough to keep going. I really just wanted to know what happened to Allison. This book really does follow a family and you can see how the death of a loved one really does touch every part of every family member's life. The idea of Claire being so absolutely consumed by her sister's death was a bit of a struggle for me. She was so young when it happened yet it seemed to follow her well into adulthood, and she even lost a job due to her obsession. I felt the overly descriptive nature of the author came back to haunt us in several chapters. The writing was beautiful but I felt as though it was a bit too much. I stuck in it because I was invested at this point and really wanted to know what happened to our young heroine. This is a haunting novel, as you can certainly see how much this murder was involved in everyone's life. And this novel also truly stayed with me over this past week. I have been thinking of it constantly. This was a solid 3.5 stars but I am rounding up because as I said, it's been a week since I finished and I am still thinking about it. Thank you to the publishers and the author for providing a copy for me to read and review.