cover image Wayward Saints

Wayward Saints

Suzzy Roche. Hyperion/Voice, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4013-4177-0

In her debut, Roche—one of three sisters who make up the folk-rock group, the Roches—shows that her narrative skills aren’t just limited to lyrics. Abused by her father, Mary Saint—lead singer for Sliced Ham—channels her pain into music. However, after the tragic death of her bandmate and lover, Anthony (“Garbagio”) Calabrese, in 2003, Mary turns away from music and flees to the safety of San Francisco, where she finds comfort working at a cafe and by joining a hippie church run by a self-described chocolate tranny named Thaddeus. Mary’s mother, Jean, also physically and mentally abused, has stayed in the tiny town of Swallow, N.Y., her husband now a stroke victim living in a retirement home. Jean hasn’t seen her daughter in years, and the two remain wrapped in their own lives until an English teacher (who has idolized Mary) contacts Jean with an invitation for Mary to perform at her old high school. Jean worries that the locals may not appreciate songs like “Feet and Knuckles” and “Sewer Flower.” Meanwhile, people from Mary’s past are working on projects that will affect her future. Roche’s empathy for these broken souls allows readers to feel the depth of their pain and savor the novel’s happier twists. (Jan.)