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Saint X

A Novel
Written by: Alexis Schaitkin
Length: 12 hrs and 25 mins
4 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Alexis Schaitkin's splashy debut novel, Saint X, is an audiobook lover's dream.... Queue this one up for a murderous, dreamy delight." (Paste)

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 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 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 truth - not 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 18 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 fans 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.

Praise for Saint X:

"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)

“Richly atmospheric, by turns coolly satiric and warmly romantic, Alexis Schaitkin’s brilliant debut novel Saint X imagines a chorus of voices in the aftermath of the alleged rape/murder of a privileged American girl vacationing in an exotic Caribbean country. Part ’true-crime’ thriller and part coming-of-age novel narrated by the deceased girl’s younger sister, Saint X is irresistibly suspenseful and canny." (Joyce Carol Oates)

©2019 Alexis Schaitkin (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

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    5 out of 5 stars

Different and awesome


Never saw that ending coming. In fact I didn’t want it to end at all. Bravo!

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderfully multi-layered literary mystery

Multiple, compelling POVs allow for great depth of story and character, unique in the mystery/crime genre. Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Housepants97
  • 2020-02-21

Why do the best books of the year always come out so early? Now I have nothing to look forward to...

STUNNING. Is it weird that I’m proud of Alexis Schaitken for writing such a great novel? A gorgeous trashy beach read that’s neither trashy or for the beach. Page turning, tear-inducing, poignant and bold af. Who knew a true crime novel about a juicy 1990s Lifetime movie of the week fable would result in profound deliberation about racism, classism, family, love, honesty and fear? I loved this book, highly recommend, and the narration is a SYMPHONY OF PERFECTION.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Lewca
  • 2020-02-25

I’d rather be alone with my thoughts...

I’ve given this book over five hours and oh how I wish I had that time back. Seven hours left and I’m out. Not only is there no mystery as your outright told who did wary on, there is so much jumping around and seemingly useless information given that I can’t force myself to pay attention. The loooooooong list of narrators should have been my first clue. I’ve listened to hundreds of books over the years and never had more than a couple narrators. This production is bizarre.

Skip it and save your credit.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Margaret Bates
  • 2020-03-04

Saint X

This book was so scattered. I couldn’t keep the characters straight. After trying to read it for some time, I was lost.
Margaret Bates

3 people found this helpful

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  • Susan
  • 2020-03-13

This was not what I expected

The book started out good but then lost its momentum. There was a lot of information about the island & not enough answers about the death. To be honest I almost gave up 1/2 way through. I would not give it a thumbs up. to many questions left un answered.

1 person found this helpful

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  • M S
  • 2020-03-26

It’s just SO good!

Love loved this book so much, highly recommend to everyone. You won’t regret the purchase! I need to form my own book club just to discuss and unpack everything! Wow!

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  • Sara
  • 2020-03-26

Disappointing

I was excited by the reviews of this book, which promised insightful consideration of race and class alongside a more nuanced story of a girl gone missing than we usually get. It was definitely trying to be different but I ultimately found the book really disappointing and plodding and fast forwarded through most of the last chapters. The author just did not build the characters or the plot robustly enough even as she used wayyyyy too many words for repetitive descriptions of the minutiae of their lives. I was also honestly pretty disappointed by the authors rambling and navel gazing reflections on privilege, which reminded me of books like the Help that ultimately are really only interested in their white characters. Her descriptions of the black characters rang falsely to me and ultimately were left with a big pile of white guilt but no road forward. Wish I had skipped it!

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  • Elfie Rodriguez
  • 2020-03-22

Slow at times and disappointing

I find myself at the end of the book and still confused about what happened. Though we have spent 90% of the book following Clive and his life story, it turns out he was not involved in her death and doesn’t know how it happened. While his story is engaging it’s not relevant to how Alison died. And in fact it’s still not clear to me how she died. The blood boy, the second most obvious choice is also not the killer. Though he is upset and ashamed of his behavior that night, he still left her alive. So how and when she went to the island and was killed in the waterfall pond —I guess we are to infer that it was just an accident. Suicide might have been more interesting.

The main character Claire/Emily is abnormal in many ways. It was hard for me to sympathize with her as she lets her life spiral down into obsession with the man who ultimately was not the reason for or part of her sisters death. I had truly wished for more intrigue and less meandering critique of white families, which seemed to me a bit like a black comedians parody of “white folks”.

I did finish the book. I was drawn to finish it. But once done I’m just unsatisfied.

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  • Allen Miller
  • 2020-03-22

Amazing variance in these reviews

My wife and I both tried for many hours to make our way through this book on a recent road trip.
The writing is good in that words, sentences, paragraphs are put together well. However there is just too much of it - too many words. This book goes on and on and on and on with prose that is not compelling. We quit the book once after several hours on our outbound drive. On the return drive we tried it again and didn't last nearly as long as the first try.

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  • Lisa Harvey
  • 2020-03-17

Wrench Tale

A wrenching tale of a women grappling with her sister’s death and confronting her sister’s potential killer.

SUMMARY
Alison Thomas, a college coed 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 and the men are soon released.

Claire, was only seven years old when her sister, Alison disappeared, Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief 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 truth to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death. As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.


REVIEW
SAINT X is a tension-filled part crime thriller, part coming of age story. I loved the initial island setting and the beautiful descriptions The story starts of at a nice pace but seem to slow down once the story jumps to Claire in NYC as an adult.

I really struggled with Claire’s character. When I picked up the book I was really hoping for a strong woman character who would be assertive and confront the opportunity with Clive head-on. Instead, Claire spends months obsessively stalking Clive and listening to her sister diary. Claire obsession is initially intriguing but soon became irritating as drags out and affects other areas of her life.

The author switches the perspective of the story between Claire and Clive. Clive’s perspective, while rounding out the story also adds much more current day personal information that takes away from Claire’s story.


The book is only 352 pages, but felt like more. I listen to the audible version. Which was performed with a huge cast of narrators who did a very nice job with the voices.

SAINT X is Alex Schaiktin’s debut novel. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia and lives in Williamstown Massachusetts. She has published numerous short stories and essays in various journals.

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  • Susan W. Hatch
  • 2020-03-14

Good story! Narration not the best-

Female narrator lisped which was annoying- maybe that character was supposed to have a speech impediment but not implied in the story? Otherwise, intriguing and enjoyable book!