SAINTS OF THE HOUSEHOLD, by Ari Tison, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), March 28, 2023, Hardcover, $19.99 (young adult, ages 14 and up)
Two brothers cope with household violence in Saints of the Household, a contemporary YA novel by Ari Tison.
Max and Jay have always depended on one another for their survival. Growing up with a physically abusive father, the two Bribri American brothers have learned that the only way to protect themselves and their mother is to stick to a schedule and keep their heads down.
But when they hear a classmate in trouble in the woods, instinct takes over and they intervene, breaking up a fight and beating their high school’s star soccer player to a pulp. This act of violence threatens the brothers’ dreams for the future and their beliefs about who they are. As the true details of that fateful afternoon unfold over the course of the novel, Max and Jay grapple with the weight of their actions, their shifting relationship as brothers, and the realization that they may be more like their father than they thought. They’ll have to reach back to their Bribri roots to find their way forward. —Synopsis provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
It’s been a week since I finished reading Saints of the Household, and I’m still struggling with what to write about it.
Not because it was bad.
Quite the opposite.
Saints of the Household just sticks with you. You ruminate on it when least expected. It’s impactful.
The story is told in alternating points of view that not only nuanced but give readers a really true sense of who Max and Jay are.
Author Ari Tison expertly explores themes of abuse, recovery, friendship and family dynamics. Her narrative is dynamic while remaining gentle, allowing vulnerabilities to play at the surface. Though she covers difficult topics, Tison’s probe is never graphic or over-the-top. It’s a fine line that is perfectly balanced.
Saints of the Household is an excellent contemporary debut novel that is appropriate for older YA readers, ages 14 or 15 and up.
Copyright © 2023 Cracking the Cover. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.