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BOOK CLUB BUNDLES

Hi, I’m Lauren. The Library will provide books for your book club. Our book club bundles include 10 copies of the same title, along with a discussion guide. Check out available bundles when visiting the Library, or fill out the form below! Patrons can reserve book club bundles up to six months in advance. Our book club bundles are stored on the second floor for the public to browse and check out. Contact us at bookclub@gpld.org or call us at 630-232-0780 if you have questions.



Saint X

by Alexis Schaitkin

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction

Claire is just seven years old when her older sister Alison mysteriously disappears. Her body is recovered a few days later, but the mystery of how she died remains. Years later, a chance encounter with one of the men who was with Alison the night she died leads to obsession as Claire tries to uncover what really happened to her sister. An entertaining thriller, it is also a study of race, class, and loss.

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author biography

Alexis Schaitkin’s short stories and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Southwest Review, the Southern Review, and other journals. 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. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts with her husband and their son. Saint X is her debut novel.  - Goodreads

More titles by this author.

reviews

Kirkus Reviews

/* Starred Review */ The death of a teenage vacationer on a fictional Caribbean island reverberates through many lives, particularly those of her 7-year-old sister and one of the workers at the resort." Look. A girl is walking down the sand… As she walks, heads turn—young men, openly; older men, more subtly; older women, longingly… This is Alison." A dangerous froth of sexual tension escalates around Alison Thomas, visiting Saint X from the wealthy New York suburbs with her parents and little sister, Claire. Schaitkin evokes her fictional resort with sureness—"the long drive lined with perfectly vertical palm trees," "the beach where lounge chairs are arranged in a parabola," the scents of "frangipani and coconut sunscreen and the mild saline of equatorial ocean." After the disaster, the focus shifts to Claire, who changes her name to Emily after her bereaved family moves to California but never escapes the shadow of the event. "I knew the exact day I outlived Alison. Eighteen years, three months, twelve days." When she moves back East for a publishing job in New York City, she crosses paths with one of the resort employees her sister was partying with the night she died. These men were exonerated in the matter of Alison's death, but Clive Richardson was arrested for selling pot in the process; after prison, his life is so devastated that he immigrates to Manhattan. After Emily gets in Clive's taxicab, her obsessive desire to know more about her sister's death—which, by now, the reader fully shares—consumes her life. The complex point of view, shifting among an omniscient narrator, Emily's perspective in first person, Clive's immigrant story in close third, plus brief testimonies from myriad minor characters, works brilliantly. Just as impressive are Schaitkin's unflinching examinations of the roles of race, privilege, and human nature in the long-unfolding tragedy. Setting the story in a fictional place, collaged and verbally photoshopped from real Caribbean settings, is daring, but this writer is fearless, and her gamble pays off. This killer debut is both a thriller with a vivid setting and an insightful study of race, class, and obsession. (Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2019).

Publisher's Weekly

Schaitkin’s unsettling debut plays with the conventions of the romantic thriller to comment on the uneasy relationship between working-class residents of a fictional island in the Caribbean and the wealthy American tourists who visit it. In 1995, a couple from a New York City suburb and their two daughters, adventurous college freshman Alison and cautious seven-year-old Claire, visit a resort on the island. Alison flirts with two workers at the resort, Clive and Edwin, and takes off with them nightly without her parents’ knowledge to visit a local club, where she dances, drinks, and gets high. One night, she doesn’t return, and her body is soon found on a nearby island. Though suspicion falls on Clive and Edwin, they are not charged with any crime. In present-day N.Y.C., Claire, who narrates much of the novel, recognizes Clive, now a cab driver, from the back seat of his taxi. Obsessed with learning what happened to Alison, she stalks him while neglecting her work and friends. As Claire embeds herself in Clive’s life, he grows increasingly wary, until he finally snaps and reveals what he knows about the final night of Alison’s life. As the novel gradually shifts to Clive’s point of view, Schaitkin subverts the other characters’ assumptions about the lives and intentions of strangers. This is a smart page-turner, both thought-provoking and effortlessly entertaining. Agent: Henry Dunlow, Dunlow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Feb.) --Staff (Reviewed 12/09/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 50, p).

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