LitStaff Pick: The Best Books We Read This Year

Wayward Saints by Suzzy RocheWayward Saints

Wayward Saints introduces us to Mary Saint, lead singer of the “almost famous” rock band Sliced Ham, when her career is just ready to take off.  Having fled an abusive childhood in small town USA, Mary finds expression in the harsh and profane world of rock and roll, sodden and sticky as it is.  But a tragic accident breaks her, leaving her adrift as her fame dissipates and her apathy reigns.

We also meet Jean Saint, Mary’s mother, who lives a carefully ordered and purposefully narrow life back in the small town that Mary fled 10 years earlier.  Jean truly loves her child, but has been ineffectual in protecting Mary from her abusive husband and belittling authorities.  This mother/daughter relationship is one of fond distance, never losing track of each other but never showing interest in their separate circumstances.  They maintain two lives joined, but not intersecting.

That is, not until Mary is invited to give a concert at her old high school.  Suddenly, the loose threads of the Saints’ lives are pulled together, with consequences that neither one of them anticipate.

Out of all the wonderful books I have read this year, Wayward Saints is the one that most often comes back to me in unexpected ways at unexpected times… it’s stayed with me long after other, more highly touted books have faded.  I’m happy to give it my ultimate props for 2012.

-Sharon Browning

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