American Saint

American Saint

by Sean Gandert

Overview: Raised in a poor neighborhood in Albuquerque by his mother and curandera grandmother, Gabriel Romero grows up fervently religious, privately conflicted, and consumed by what he’s certain is the true will of God. A radical activist determined to enlighten the consciousness of a country losing its way, Gabriel starts his own church. His slogans go viral. His protests make him either a hero or an anarchist in a polarized America, and his miracles—if we believe what we see—cast him as either a charlatan or a saint. But Gabriel knows that, above all, to ensure lasting faith he must do something truly memorable. For that, he will see his divine mission to its startling end.

In this visionary novel framed as a hagiography, the ruminative, subjective memories of Gabriel’s witnesses—spiritual, familial, romantic, and political—converge to make sense of the man’s confounding works and message. As they do, a surprising portrait develops…not only of the deepening mystery of Gabriel Romero himself but also of a country in conflict and the faith it takes to fight the suspicion and fear that divide us.

Deanna Boe (10/23/19): This is a difficult book to analysis and probably do it justice. It is well written and unique but the way each “chapter/segment” jumps from one person telling the narrative to another it can be quite confusing, especially since there are seven people telling you about the main character, Gabriel Romero, and whether he could be considered a “Saint” or not. He is an extremely religious Catholic, and even studies to be a priest, stops, and then a Jesuit. Each time he doesn’t feel it is the right path he should take with his life. Gabriel and his mother are Hispanic and in her chapters when she is telling us about Gabriel she often speaks Spanish; even if you don’t read Spanish you can usually figure out what she is saying. The whole narrative is trying to show you the background of Gabriel. Can he or can’t he be a saint, even if he is gay? It is very long and drawn out, and personally I breezed through many parts and even skipped others. In short, I am not really sure how I feel about this book. Yes, the author is an excellent writer and has given us a storyline unlike any I have read before, but saying that, I am not sure how many would like it.
Rating: ***+

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