The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel Jose Older

Marisol was lost to her family in the Cuban Revolution… it pains the relatives to try to remember this time in their lives and most just choose not to. Her sister Nilda had moved to the US and is now living in New Jersey. Yet, after the the trauma of the past, she lives as a virtual recluse… Marisol’s ethereal spirit is still alive, but barely. She will use what’s left to nudge her nephew Ramon towards the truth. Ramon is a hospital security guard by day and a DJ by night. He has an on again, off again relationship with a young doctor, someone he really likes, but feels the relationship is doomed. So he pours his energy into his music… until he starts experiencing dreams of Cuba, and his lost ties to the island. Ramon starts asking questions and ones people don’t want to answer…

The Book of Lost Saints is ghost story of sorts. One that spans generations and a revolution and a bifurcation of cultures. The story is narrated by Marisol and the first few chapters definitely take a little to get used to as I figured out that I was seeing the world through the eyes of a spirit. The once-removed view is important because it enables the reader to experience the past and the present through this single eye, but the problem is that Marisol doesn’t remember some key details of her life on the island. It takes Ramon’s investigations and her own discoveries to trigger the past.

I loved Older’s writing. From the mixture of English and Spanish languages to the repetition of key words and phrases, the writing is lyrical and mesmerizing. There are dark or tough passages to read, but there is also so much love. The love of family, but a hard series of choices that has split and broken people in the midst of governmental eruption.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories of the American tapestry.

5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Macmillan

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