Saints for All Occasions Book Review

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Saints for All Occasions for review purposes. No other compensation was received.

J. Courtney Sullivan’s latest novel – Saints for All Occasions – is both an intriguing and frustrating read. The lack of neat and tidy ending, however, is also what keeps you mulling the story over, long after you are done reading the book.

From the publisher:

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand.

Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora’s favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.

Saints for All Occasions – Review

This novel takes a lot of (what seem) to be incredibly predictable twists and turns. We know that Nora is not the one who is going to end up pregnant – of course Theresa will. Neither is it a shock to the reader that Patrick is actually Theresa’s son.
Beyond that, however, there are little glimpses of truth that not all of the characters ever become aware of. It’s the undiscovered bits of family life that leave the reader feeling slightly dissatisfied with the ending. If the author’s goal was to avoid cliche endings, she has certainly accomplished it.
I would definitely put this on your weekend reading list. I found myself staying up far too late in an effort to finish it, desperately wanting to see more of the loose ends tied up. Alas, that is not how the story ends.

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