A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by PRINTZ MEDAL winning and CARNEGIE MEDAL, COSTA BOOK AWARD and GUARDIAN CHILDREN'S FICTION PRIZE shortlisted novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.
Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez - twenty metres outside town lies a fence, and beyond it, America - the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he's been working for. He's dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he's on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they're as good as dead.
Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) - she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.
Sedgwick (Blood Red Snow White) transports readers to the border city of Juarez in this grim study of the repercussions of U.S. policies and the market for narcotics on Mexico and its citizens. Arturo cobbles together a life in Anapra, "a little less than a shanty town," where he is visited by childhood friend Faustino, who has gotten mixed up with the deadly local gangs and is in desperate need of money. Arturo reluctantly agrees to put his gambling talents to the test in order to help his old friend, but it's a dangerous game, and it doesn't end well. Sedgwick interweaves the cruel realities of day-to-day existence in a desert landscape plagued by gang warfare where people vanish without notice and brutalized corpses appear just as suddenly with interspersed passages that address NAFTA and other relevant social context, as well as musings that revolve around Santa Muerte, "a folk saint, a rebel angel, a powerful divinity excommunicated from the Orthodox," to whom Arturo devotes himself. The novel's many tragedies feel all but inexorable, and Arturo's story will linger with readers. Ages 14 up.