cover image The Possibilities of Sainthood

The Possibilities of Sainthood

Donna Freitas, . . FSG/Foster, $16.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36087-0

Fresh and funny, this debut novel introduces a 15-year-old Catholic schoolgirl who experiences typical adolescent angst but has her own way of dealing with it: Antonia regularly petitions the saints. Longing for her first kiss, she settles on St. Augustine as an intercessor (“Hark back to your wayward youth,” she urges him in her Saint Diary), but when her prayer gets her more aggressive action than she bargained for, Antonia decides to fill the gap in hagiography and proposes herself as the patron saint of the first kiss. Her e-mails to the Vatican (inhabited here by a pope open to the notion of women priests, gay marriage, etc.) add flair to a coming-of-age novel already vivid for its warm portrayal of urban Italian-American family life. “My daughter looks like a puttana ! What have I done to deserve this?” shrieks Antonia’s widowed mother when she catches Antonia rolling up the waist of her school uniform (Antonia’s list of the “Top Five Ways Italians Express Love” begins with “by being totally honest with each other, i.e., fighting”). While getting at serious issues, Freitas (author of Killing the Imposter God and a frequent contributor to PW ) wins readers over with a beautifully sustained light touch. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)