TITLE : Bones Of A Saint
AUTHOR : Grant Farley
GENRE : YA Historical Fiction
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : 16th March 2021
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Soho Press for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Bones Of A Saint by Grant Farley is a young adult historical fiction. The book tells us the is a coming-of-age story of the 15-year-old RJ Armante set against the backdrop of late 70’s Northern California. RJ has lived his whole life in the hometown of Arcangel. The Blackjacks have ruled the town for years and force younger kids to do petty offenses for the gang. RJ lives with his mother, many siblings, and his differently-abled brother in a trailer park. The young boy has always been in troubling situations and finds himself at the center of a dangerous situation that forces him to work for the Blackjacks. He is tasked with the job of preying on an old new resident of the abandoned house that used to be the Blackjack’s activities. RJ is hesitant to follow the orders from the gang and the story unfolds as RJ finds himself trying to squirrel his way out of the impossible.
The story is atmospheric and has the ominous feel of something dreadful going to happen. The cover perfectly captures the vibe of the book. The story is at times bumpy in the beginning and the writing also feels a little stiff. RJ’s voice comes through very clearly and takes us through his journey as he deals with his grief, pain, and loss of his father. He is trying to come to terms with his life and as he is navigating the teen years into adulthood, we see him trying to understand life and wanting to live a life that will help his family. He is selfless in his actions and we see the dedication, love, and care he has for his family. He is your typical teenager and also not one at the same time. He is an enigma in the way he thinks and approaches different scenarios. The narrative is strong and unique and RJ’s voice comes through with perfect clarity.
When you start the story and find yourself wondering what is going on, don’t worry. My advice is to keep going as RJ will keep you engaged and riveted to his story. It was unique in many ways. I found myself wanting to know how he will get rid of the Blackjacks and then joined. him on his talks with the old man, Mr. Leguin. There was something vulnerable about those conversations and the stories that were told that left me hooked. RJ deals with various emotions as the story progresses and we as readers are there with him in every single one of them. He is unafraid of the danger for himself and cares too deeply for the people around him. His craftiness, intellect, inventiveness, and resourcefulness shine through his every narrative. He is special and I adored him.
This is every bit chaotic and takes us through different stories that connect other side characters and everything comes together cohesively in the final chapter. Each story told and every event was leading up to the finale and it will be quite the twist that we did not see coming. The revelations are what make the mystery and suspense in the book thrilling. The chaotic nature of the storytelling shouldn’t deter you, as it is very much reflective of RJ’s personality and lends itself to the uniqueness of his voice. The pacing is not fast and takes its sweet time revealing all the secrets that tie the different storylines and characters together. If you are expecting a fast-paced, thriller-like story with gang wars then you will be disappointed. My advice is to trust the author and keep reading. You will be surprised.
Overall, the story is individual and has a distinctive tone and feel to it. It takes its time to unravel and rewards the readers with a story that is special in its own regard. This coming-of-age tale comes with mysteries and suspense that will hook us to the story and surprises the readers at every turn. Paving the way for the progression of the story is a young boy on the verge of adulthood trying his best to keep the peace during challenging times. If you love young adult historical fiction, then definitely pick this one up. It’s realistic, gritty, and unique. I gave the book 4 stars and highly recommend checking this one out if you enjoy historical fiction books that are mix of plot and character driven stories.
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Set in Northern California in the late ’70s, this timeless coming-of-age story examines the nature of evil, the art of storytelling, and the possibility of redemption.
Fifteen-year-old RJ Armante has never known a life outside his dead-end hometown of Arcangel, CA. The Blackjacks still rule as they have for generations, luring the poorest kids into their monopoly on petty crime. For years, they’ve left RJ alone…until now.
When the Blackjacks come knocking, they want RJ to prey upon an old loner. But RJ is at his breaking point. It’s not just about the gang who rules the town. It’s about Charley, his younger brother, who is disabled. It’s about Roxanne, the girl he can’t reach. It’s about the kids in his crew who have nothing to live for. If RJ is to resist, he must fight to free Arcangel of its past.
Source : Goodreads