Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli

Well!

The treasures you find lurking at the bottom of your TBR pile!

To clarify, I have several TBR piles.

My Australian & International fiction & non-fiction are hidden discretely behind the mirror in my bedroom (this pile is the biggest. Did I say biggest? I mean out of control!)
My classic TBR's are shelved on the bookshelf already (they are definite keepers to be read and reread over my lifetime.)
My kids and YA TBR pile is on my computer desk (with another box hidden under the table!)

The Head of the Saint was on the bottom of the pile on my desk.

But is it teen/YA fiction?

I know that publishers like to market books by genre and who will read it. But The Head of the Saint is going to be one of those books that defies any kind of pigeon-holing.
Perhaps like Jasper Jones and The Book Thief and even To Kill a Mockingbird, this is one of those stories that fits everywhere and nowhere all at once.

It is very embedded in its setting - Brazilian - hot, poor, chaotic - full of priests, saints and mysterious events.

It follows the basic tenets of a coming-of-age story - a young boy orphaned when his mother dies, leaving him with an address with which to find his father.

There's a road trip full of hunger, despair and hardship.

There's some gorgeous writing that survives the translation process:

"she took Mariinha in with a hug that was silent but filled with all the words the girl needed to hear."

"The tune unlocked something in Samuel's chect, a drawer full of ancient dreams."

It's also a love story about family, friendship, belonging, truth and lies.

Stunning lino cuts by Alexis Snell adorn the beginning of each chapter and the cover.

It also boasts an author who was personally selected by Gabriel Garcia Marquez during the 2006 'How to tell a Story' workshop in Cuba for the synopsis of this story. An author who won Brazil's Jabuti Prize - a prestigious prize for children's literature.
An author who I thought was a man until the last few chapters (when I flipped ahead to read the author and translator bio's at the back).

I would recommend this book to anyone of any age who loves a well told, well written story that makes your heart sing. I, personally, couldn't put it down.

The Head of the Saint fulfills one of my birthday month RC books for February.
Socorro was born on the 24th February, 1975 in Forteleza, Ceará, Brazil.

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