The spirit of Marisol, who vanished during the Cuban Revolution, visits her nephew, Ramon, in modern-day New Jersey, and her presence prompts him to investigate the story of his ancestor, unaware of the forces driving him on his search.
Packed tight with lively dialogue, historical sensitivity and a hearty dose of magical realism, Older's departure from stories for young readers is an epic saga from an author at the absolute top of his game ... Older captures the attention of his readers instantly ... not an easy read --- violence lurks on every page, and Older crafts a sense of unease that permeates even the lightest moments. But what makes The Book of Lost Saints even more interesting is its third person narrator, a spirit who can see and know all, except for her own history. This perspective can be difficult to adjust to at first, especially during Marisol’s more vulgar moments. Older never holds back from any detail, no matter how uncomfortable, and this can be jarring, but he is sharp and perceptive with his gaze. Never once does he give us an unwieldy or uninteresting detail --- and, perhaps even more impressively, never once does he stray from the expansive and explosive timeline of Cuba’s past, present and future ... [Older] effortlessly switches between Spanish and English, peppering in numerous colorful Cubanismos that are so full of meaning that anyone can understand them, regardless of how many languages you speak. In including this dose of culture, he also points out the differences in dialects and native tongues, creating a vivid and passionate tone that makes his dialogue an absolute joy to read ... Equal parts violent, pensive and magic, The Book of Lost Saints is a masterwork of culture, history and trauma.
Older's otherworldly narrative, told from Marisol's (often irreverent) point of view, jumps around, as dreams tend to do. The action shifts between Marisol's memories, her experience as a not-quite-embodied spirit and Ramón's present-day waking encounters with the other characters. The novel gives a bleak, often heartrending perspective on a complicated revolution that tore Cuba apart, with multiple characters either switching allegiances or betrayed by those who did ... Between the grisly scenes of war, prison and heartbreak, the novel gives way to moments of lightness: Adina's dry sense of humor, wisecracks from assorted Cubano relatives, the growing love between Ramón and Aliceana. Infused with the pounding beats of Ramón's nightclub, the colors and sounds of prewar Cuba and the complicated ties of family, The Book of Lost Saints is a gritty, compelling look at love and war and the ways past actions reverberate down through the generations
This sweeping cross-generational saga from YA and adult fantasy author Older...immerses readers in the thrilling, heartbreaking history of one Cuban American family. Marisol is an effectively omniscient narrator, weaving memories of years past and predictions for her family’s future into the contemporary story. With lyricism and atmosphere, Older skillfully emphasizes tone over plot. Fans of Lucinda Reilly, Judith Kinghorn, and Richard C. Morais will find themselves lost in Ramón’s haunting, melancholy, and undeniably inspiring journey.