A New York Times Notable Book of 2020, now a Hulu Original Series!
"'Saint X' is hypnotic. Schaitkin's characters...are so intelligent and distinctive it feels not just easy, but necessary, to follow them. I devoured [it] in a day."
–Oyinkan Braithwaite, New York Times Book Review
When you lose the person who is most essential to you, who do you become?
Recommended by Entertainment Weekly, included in Good Morning America's 20 Books We're Excited for in 2020 & named as one of Vogue's Best Books to Read This Winter, Bustle's Most Anticipated Books of February 2020, and O Magazine's 14 of the Best Books to Read This February!
Hailed as a “marvel of a book” and “brilliant and unflinching,” Alexis Schaitkin’s stunning debut, Saint X, is a haunting portrait of grief, obsession, and the bond between two sisters never truly given the chance to know one another.
Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men–employees at the resort–are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.
Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth–not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.
As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.
For readers of Emma Cline’s The Girls and Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Saint X is a flawlessly drawn and deeply moving story that culminates in an emotionally powerful ending.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
What really happened on the fateful night when a young woman was killed on a Caribbean island—and her sister’s life changed forever? We couldn’t put down Alexis Schaitkin’s captivating thriller. Pretty and smart teenager Alison was loved by nearly everyone and idolized by her shy younger sibling, Claire. But everything changed after Alison’s mysterious death became a national news story. Many years later, everyone else has moved on—but the now-adult Claire has become dangerously obsessed with finding the truth. Schaitkin expands this gripping story into a study of race and privilege, getting into the heads of a diverse cast of characters that includes the island’s locals, a bevy of hotel guests, Alison’s friends, and even Alison herself.
Schaitkin's unsettling debut plays with the conventions of the romantic thriller to comment on the uneasy relationship between working-class residents of a fictional island in the Caribbean and the wealthy American tourists who visit it. In 1995, a couple from a New York City suburb and their two daughters, adventurous college freshman Alison and cautious seven-year-old Claire, visit a resort on the island. Alison flirts with two workers at the resort, Clive and Edwin, and takes off with them nightly without her parents' knowledge to visit a local club, where she dances, drinks, and gets high. One night, she doesn't return, and her body is soon found on a nearby island. Though suspicion falls on Clive and Edwin, they are not charged with any crime. In present-day N.Y.C., Claire, who narrates much of the novel, recognizes Clive, now a cab driver, from the back seat of his taxi. Obsessed with learning what happened to Alison, she stalks him while neglecting her work and friends. As Claire embeds herself in Clive's life, he grows increasingly wary, until he finally snaps and reveals what he knows about the final night of Alison's life. As the novel gradually shifts to Clive's point of view, Schaitkin subverts the other characters' assumptions about the lives and intentions of strangers. This is a smart page-turner, both thought-provoking and effortlessly entertaining.)
Not Your Standard Murder Mystery
This book is a beautifully written story about all of the people impacted by the death of a young girl. The core story seems like a premise for another murder mystery. A teenager is found dead at a luxury resort, and decades later, her sister seeks to find out what happened. But this book is so much more than a murder mystery.
It’s told from the perspective of many of the people who were present at the resort when the young girl was found and how this event impacted their lives. From her sister, to the accused, to guests who were simply at the resort at the time of her death. While is it a story about a young woman’s search for the truth, it is also one about finding closure and peace to traumas of the past.
Ooooow. The first few chapters are great. The rest of the book is so wordy and slow, when something significant happens it has taken so long it ends up anticlimactic. Could have been cut in half and been a great book. I forced myself to finish because I wanted to know, but found myself begging for it to be over.
Horrible and stupidly written
I don’t care for present tense books in general but from page 1 to page 30 when I gave up, the way the parents went unnamed drove me crazy. Add that to the awkward verb tense, and the thing just lost my interest.