Book Review: Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

“I don’t think my parents understood their desires when they decided to have another child. They thought they wanted to raise another kid.  Really, they wanted to raise another Alison.” 

Alison Thomas 18, the star of the novel. The all-around, All-American daughter. Claire Thomas 7, shy, odd, and the younger sister. Some would say the sisters seemed close and that may be true, to some extent. In reality, Claire despised Alison as much as she adored her; even in her adolescent years to come long after Alison’s passing.

Saint X. Saint X is an island the Thomas family inhabits for winter break. A family vacation soon turns into a family tragedy. Alison, 18, goes missing and found dead a while later. It’s Alison’s death where the story really begins. 

As the tragedy sinks in and the family returns home to New York, they come to realize they can no longer stay there. They eventually pack up and move to California and there Claire begins her new life and her new role as Emily (Claire Emily Thomas).


Claire spends her life trying to find herself (it seems) and run from the life she once knew; or the life she thinks her parents wanted for her sister. She moves back to New York.

She lives in questionable places all throughout her twenties in New York. Even though she can afford the best of the best through her parents, she lives in “lower class” areas. She runs into one of the boys from the island, Clive, and this sparks back up her hunt for the truth. 

“Our hunger for stories leads us to mistake a distracted spouse for an unfaithful spouse, an earthquake for divine punishment. A death for a murder. Aren’t they both right? Stories lead us to the truth and they lead us astray, and how are we to know the difference?”

When we dive back into the past and hunt for the answers we think we want, what are we really discovering?

Alison was a beautiful, spoiled, straight A’d,  privileged teenager looking for a thrill. She loved her life and the luxuries that came with it, but she wanted to experience the island life and culture. She wanted to be a part of something that money and privilege can’t buy. She ended up looking for a thrill that became her last. 

Claire has always adored, but resented her carefree, reckless, and “perfect” sister. With the eleven year age difference, she had big shoes to fill. It’s hard enough to meet the expectation of a living individual, but even harder when that person has been dead for quite some time. 


When Claire runs into Clive, randomly one night, in New York; it re-sparks her obsession with finding out what really happened that night on Saint X, the night her sister died. She doesn’t find out the truth, at least not the whole truth. She still discovered something; her mother wasn’t a pushover, her sister wasn’t a saint, and she even discovered who she was. She discovered that something a better laid to rest and remain rested. No need to re-dig up what’s already buried.

I give this novel a 4 out of 5 stars. It was a good and entertaining read, but it lacked momentum for me. This was more slow-burn than the fast-paced I had hoped it to be. I still would recommend this book for you all to read.

Thank you Celadon Books for an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

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