Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.
Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.
Here's the thing about Maggie Stiefvater books, for me at least- some I love right from page one and can't put down. The Scorpio Races for instance is that one book that once I pick it up I can't put it down, no matter how many times I've read it. Other's, like The Raven Boys, took longer for me to get into, but by the end I was fully invested in what was happening. All the Crooked Saints was a slow burn for me. I read it in fits and starts. I'd pick it up and read a chapter while waiting for dance class to start, or read a few chapters while also watching my kiddo at gymnastics. I liked the story, and the characters are immensely interesting, but I wasn't pulled into it at first in that way that makes you stay up all night to finish reading. Here's the other thing about Stiefvater's books, I know that whether the books hooks me from page one or if it takes longer, there will be that moment when suddenly it all makes sense and I have to finish the whole thing immediately. Which is where I found myself late last night, a book in my hand unable to stop reading until I could see the Soria family safe and sound on the other side of their miracles.
The book centers around the Soria family in Colorado, they live on Bicho Raro, a place where miracles happen all the time, and the people who live there, both saints and pilgrims live their lives dictated by strict rules of who can perform miracles and how these miracles can be performed. At first the story seems to just follow the family as miracles are performed and the pilgrims struggle with completing the miracles and being saved. I had a professor I had in grad school used to say to me all the time "So what?" She'd read a paper and say "So what?" She'd listen to an argument and say "So What?"... as a teacher I find myself saying this to my students, and as a reader I've found myself thinking it as I read a book. As I read All the Crooked Saints I started to think "So what?", I began to get a little impatient waiting for these miracles to resolve themselves . In retrospect, as I type this, the irony is not lost on me that my impatience virtually mirrors the impatience that the pilgrims were feeling at this point in the book as they too are waiting for some sort of guidance in completing their miracles.(well played Stiefvater, well played). At any rate, the minute that Beatriz and Daniel Soria began to realize what it is they must do was also the minute I realized what the book had been building towards all along. I won't give it away here, but suffice it to say that what I thought the book was about was secondary to what the book was actually about, and my thoughts of "So what?" turned quickly to "Oh my god, that's what!" and I began to second guess everything I thought I knew about the beginning of the book. I fully intend on giving this one a second read to pick up on all those things that I know I missed.
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