The Book of Lost Saints

The Book of Lost Saints

An evocative multigenerational Cuban American family story of revolution, loss, violence, and family bondsMarisol vanished during the Cuban Revolution, her fate unknown and lost to time. Now, haunted by atrocities long-forgotten, her foul-mouthed spirit visits her nephew, Ramon, in modern-day New Jersey. Her hope: That her presence will prompt her descendant to unearth...

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Title:The Book of Lost Saints
Author:Daniel José Older
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Edition Language:English

The Book of Lost Saints Reviews

  • Stephanie

    Slated for release on November 9th, 2019, The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older is a haunting and intriguing book that readers are going to love.

    The story centers around Marisol, a spirit who is desperate to find out what happened to her in the past and how she died. She remembers fragment by fragment of her history and infuses those memories into the dreams of her nephew Ramón, a DJ. Ramón keeps a book of all his vivid dreams, but when he starts asking questions, his family evades him

    Slated for release on November 9th, 2019, The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older is a haunting and intriguing book that readers are going to love.

    The story centers around Marisol, a spirit who is desperate to find out what happened to her in the past and how she died. She remembers fragment by fragment of her history and infuses those memories into the dreams of her nephew Ramón, a DJ. Ramón keeps a book of all his vivid dreams, but when he starts asking questions, his family evades him and refuses to answer anything. The story is told from Marisol’s perspective, so we see firsthand the horrifying memories she keeps gaining. It’s part mystery, part history, and ultimately a story about family and legacy.

    The first aspect of this book that I absolutely loved was that it prompted me to do a bit of research into the revolutions and unrest in Cuba under Torrado, then Castro.

    "What do you do when you’ve already torn down the world to make a better one and the better one turns out to be just as rotten as the one you shattered?

    You shatter the world all over again, I suppose and keep breaking it until you get one you can name Freedom."

    I had a vague notion about the revolution, but knew little to nothing about the in your face brutality of Fidél Castro, which spurred another revolution.

    There was a significant gap in my knowledge of Cuban history outside of knowing a little about cult status of Che Guevera, a leader of one of the branches that finally overthrew Batista. So, thank you for prompting me to do a bit of research.

    I also loved the focus on the deep connections families can have and how quickly they can be shattered and rebuilt. I admire the Cubano’s fierce love and hope for their homeland, despite living on foreign soil. Finally, my favorite parts were Marisol’s memories – they were well-written so that it keeps you wanting more and had vivid description.

    One difficulty I had was that I haven’t spoken Spanish in decades. I could parse out a few words and phrases, but not all. It was funny because the ones I did google because they kept popping up ended up being curse words.

    I had the opportunity to meet Daniel José Older on two occasions at Book Con. He loves what he does and is such a genuinely nice person – he takes his time with his fans and I appreciate that!

    As an aside another one of my favorite quotes is:

    "The point is, son, the reason that Willsmeeth is such a good actor, the thing that makes him above all others, is that he can play any character he wants, and he is still true to himself"

    I just got home from Aladdin last night and this line is truer than ever. He’s the Genie, of course, but there is so much Will Smith in what he does and you can see his humor throughout. I think I could even pick out the lines he added himself. “I heard the princess is hot, where is she?” for instance.

    There were so many good quotes in this book and here are my top five:

    "The power of people knowing you have power means you don’t have to use it."

    "You’ve always been a warrior, and now you are learning that a true warrior is also very vulnerable on the outside, the pain has become so great that is is impossible to act tough anymore."

    "Wrap love around even the most broken parts of yourself, because they are what God has given you to remind you how strong you are."

    "They persist, but so do I, it seems."

    "The whole terrible system seemed like a setup sometimes: You crack slightly in the face of a world not built for you, and they load you up with medications till you can’t feel anything, then they act surprised when your body and mind rebel and the rebellion is an explosion outward instead of another fake suicide attempt. And then you’re done: locked away, disappeared, force-fed more meds and trapped in a smiley-faced spiral of How Are You Feeling Today and Let’s Talk About What Happened That Day, and it never fucking ends."

    As a disclaimer, I received this digital ARC from Edelweiss for purposes of review and all opinions are my own.

  • Olivia (Stories For Coffee)

    The Book of Lost Saints is a mesmerizing book that sucked me deep into the heart of a story that brought forth a world of emotions inside me that I’m still trying to process. Told in a 3rd person omnipresent point of view, this novel follows Ramón as he continually receives messages from a long lost tía who vanished without a trace after the Cuban revolution. As he gets glimpses of her rocky past in Cuba, he feels compelled to investigate to see what happened to her while also learning more

    The Book of Lost Saints is a mesmerizing book that sucked me deep into the heart of a story that brought forth a world of emotions inside me that I’m still trying to process. Told in a 3rd person omnipresent point of view, this novel follows Ramón as he continually receives messages from a long lost tía who vanished without a trace after the Cuban revolution. As he gets glimpses of her rocky past in Cuba, he feels compelled to investigate to see what happened to her while also learning more about his Cuban roots.

    At first, it was difficult to get sucked into the story considering it’s narrated by Marisol looking over Ramón, and as someone who doesn’t necessarily enjoy 3rd person, it took me a bit to get into it, but once I did, I was completely invested in the story full of Cuban culture, slang, and Spanish sayings that weren’t italicized, which others the language, in my opinion. It was so refreshing to see phrases that my family said in a book written into the narrative so effortlessly that it felt like I was coming home while reading a story.

    Not only were we able to explore Ramón’s life in New Jersey but we also got to see him explore Cuba for the first time which always hits me in the heart because I’ve never seen the island, so reading about the vivid descriptions and Ramón’s feelings as he explores an island he’s only heard about in stories really impacted me and made me long to see the island myself, one day.

    This story is about being Cuban, familial ties, exploring your culture, and also the trauma Cubans have faced that gets carried down generations. The Book of Lost Saints represented the pain and loss deep in my heart as a Cuban and also taught me new information about the Cuban revolution that I didn’t know about. This is such an important and validating books for Cuban readers and also for other readers who want a vivid, fantastical historical fiction. I cannot recommend it enough.

  • Didi Chanoch

    There are some things which you are likely to encounter in a DJO book. There will be music. There will be complex family stuff (stuff: dynamics, relationships, magical legacies). There will probably be a medical professional. Politics will likely play a part. And a ghost.

    The Book of Lost Saints has all of these, and yet it is an entirely different work from Older's previous. It is a mix of magical realism, urban fantasy, historical fiction, multi-generational family drama. The horror here is

    There are some things which you are likely to encounter in a DJO book. There will be music. There will be complex family stuff (stuff: dynamics, relationships, magical legacies). There will probably be a medical professional. Politics will likely play a part. And a ghost.

    The Book of Lost Saints has all of these, and yet it is an entirely different work from Older's previous. It is a mix of magical realism, urban fantasy, historical fiction, multi-generational family drama. The horror here is not the supernatural kind Older has employed in the past. This time, it's the horror of very real human behavior and history. It may be his best work to date.

    This is a book that deals with the two ways a revolution can fail, both experienced, sequentially, in Cuba. The first being the revolution that succeeds and becomes a version of what it aimed to topple, and the second being the revolution that flat out fails. It deals with how families (one central family, but also some other tangential families) deal with those historical events. Those who take them on, those who avoid and deny.

    It's really good. You should read it.

  • Paul

    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

    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.

    For my full review:

    For all my reviews:

  • Jocelyn

    I don't think this book could feel more personal if I had written it myself. I am half convinced Older pried this story from the hearts of Cuban-Americans to lay bare for the rest of the world to see. It is a love letter, a haunting, and utterly unforgettable.

    Ramón and Marisol's journey

    I don't think this book could feel more personal if I had written it myself. I am half convinced Older pried this story from the hearts of Cuban-Americans to lay bare for the rest of the world to see. It is a love letter, a haunting, and utterly unforgettable.

    Ramón and Marisol's journey left me at once both broken and healed. I am nothing but raw emotion. If you want a story filled with love, loss, hardship, and horror, then you absolutely need

    .

  • 2TReads

    -So if you ever wonder what we, the disappeared, dream of in our darkest hours, know that it is you: those who remain- Marisol.

    Daniel Jose Older has delivered a story of a family, secrets, revolution, betrayal, survival, loss and love.

    Marisol vanished in the days following the Cuban revolution; now a part of her has returned to uncover what really happened to her. With a bond that transcends the physical, Marisol uses a loved one to search for the truth.

    History: shared, owned, hated or forgotten

    -So if you ever wonder what we, the disappeared, dream of in our darkest hours, know that it is you: those who remain- Marisol.

    Daniel Jose Older has delivered a story of a family, secrets, revolution, betrayal, survival, loss and love.

    Marisol vanished in the days following the Cuban revolution; now a part of her has returned to uncover what really happened to her. With a bond that transcends the physical, Marisol uses a loved one to search for the truth.

    History: shared, owned, hated or forgotten never truly leaves, and in The Book of Lost Saints, Older portrays just how strong history can be, how far forward it can reach and how bound we are by it.

    Memory and a shared history are the building blocks that bring this story to life; dreams and signs are tools of communication and the love of family crosses the sea and back to an ending that touched the heart.

    There is only one thing that I could not see past in this book, whether author did what he did. Because Cuba....if you know, you know.

  • Eileen

    4-4.5 stars

    Wow, what an ending! This was no an easy book to read, partly because it was hard to figure out what was going on at the beginning, and partly because of the subject matter. This book covers the time surrounding the Cuban Revolution and moves towards the present where Ramon is being visited by the spirit and memories of his dead aunt Marisol as they both try to figure out what happened to her. This was a subject that I didn't know much about and like all war zones/dictatorships, it

    4-4.5 stars

    Wow, what an ending! This was no an easy book to read, partly because it was hard to figure out what was going on at the beginning, and partly because of the subject matter. This book covers the time surrounding the Cuban Revolution and moves towards the present where Ramon is being visited by the spirit and memories of his dead aunt Marisol as they both try to figure out what happened to her. This was a subject that I didn't know much about and like all war zones/dictatorships, it was a brutal, violent, and unfair time, and the struggles of the people continue to this day. The abuse and violence was particularly tough to read about, but I think it was also important to the story. There were times when I would get lost about the situation, but overall, I felt the author did an amazing job weaving together the past and the present. There were so many elements I loved about this book, and I only wish I could hear some of the music that Ramon put together, especially with the orchestra! This book took me awhile to get through because I wanted to read it slowly and let some of the events sit in my head. But I suspect if I had had the time, I could have sat down and read it in a couple of settings, with a different impact. As it was, I finished the last 60% in two sittings because once I hit that 50% mark, I wanted to know what happened! For anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a bit of mysticism and mystery, and doesn't mind some sex and violence, I would recommend this book.

    Thanks to #NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Sarah-Hope

    The Book of Lost Saints is a Cuban family story with a heart firmly planted in the world of magical realism. Ramón, one of two central characters, is a hospital security guard by day and an exceptionally talented DJ by night. The other central character is Marisol, an aunt Ramón never met, but whose spirit is now haunting his dreams. Marisol disappeared in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution, and now she wants Ramón to uncover her story to put her spirit at peace. Doing this, however, is a

    The Book of Lost Saints is a Cuban family story with a heart firmly planted in the world of magical realism. Ramón, one of two central characters, is a hospital security guard by day and an exceptionally talented DJ by night. The other central character is Marisol, an aunt Ramón never met, but whose spirit is now haunting his dreams. Marisol disappeared in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution, and now she wants Ramón to uncover her story to put her spirit at peace. Doing this, however, is a singularly difficult task for Ramón, because it becomes clear that his mother, Nilda, played a key role in Marisol's fate.

    The entire book is told in Marisol's spirit's voice, which takes some getting used to at first, but works quite well. Marisol's spirit has forgotten much of her own story, so not only do we share Ramón's efforts to uncover the truth, we share Marisol's struggles to understand and accept the life she cannot remember.

    The dialogue is particularly well-written, making use of Cubanismos in ways that keep them accessible for those who don't speak Spanish, as well as for those who do.

    This book offers an interesting, critical perspective on pre- and post-revolutionary Cuba, which carries into the present, as Ramón travels to the island in search of more details of his aunt's story. The U.S. cast members include a variety of Cuban Americans whose attitudes about their former homeland vary widely—so even though Marisol is narrating, the reader always has access to multiple perspectives.

    The Book of Lost Saints should prove a satisfying read for a variety of readers: lovers of magical realism, fans of Latin American/Caribbean literature, and those who enjoy novels about families coming to terms with one another.

    I received a free electronic ARC of this book for review purposes. The opinions are my own.

  • Susie Dumond

    Ramon is a hospital security guard by day and a DJ by night in post-9/11 New Jersey. He never met his aunt Marisol, as she disappeared during the Cuban Revolution before he was born. But once her spirit starts following him around and rediscovering her own story through his dreams, he must uncover what happened to her in order to set her free.

    Told through the eyes of Marisol's spirit, this is a haunting, lyrical tale of family history lost and found. I love the narrative choice of using

    Ramon is a hospital security guard by day and a DJ by night in post-9/11 New Jersey. He never met his aunt Marisol, as she disappeared during the Cuban Revolution before he was born. But once her spirit starts following him around and rediscovering her own story through his dreams, he must uncover what happened to her in order to set her free.

    Told through the eyes of Marisol's spirit, this is a haunting, lyrical tale of family history lost and found. I love the narrative choice of using Marisol's perspective; it makes the flipping back and forth between timelines feel really fresh and engaging. I'm not sure why this book is categorized as YA. There's a lot of dark, violent, and sexual content, but it definitely has a purpose in the story. Overall, it's a profound tale told in an inventive way. I was happy to get lost in Marisol's history.

    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  • Jennifer

    Thanks to partner NetGalley for the digital ARC of Daniel José Older’s The Book of Lost Saints in exchange for an honest review. The book releases Tuesday, November 5.

    “They came in boats and airplanes, armed with false documents and holy terror and a grinding wariness of what they would find. . . . They came and left behind family members clutching photographs, and promises to send money and frequent letters and powdered milk or vacuum cleaners or whatever it was impossible to find that year. .

    Thanks to partner NetGalley for the digital ARC of Daniel José Older’s The Book of Lost Saints in exchange for an honest review. The book releases Tuesday, November 5.

    “They came in boats and airplanes, armed with false documents and holy terror and a grinding wariness of what they would find. . . . They came and left behind family members clutching photographs, and promises to send money and frequent letters and powdered milk or vacuum cleaners or whatever it was impossible to find that year. . . . Each brought along a cord that stretched all the way back to the island and when they slept, each prayed the cord would send along news from home until slowly, each one came to call this place home and the cords wavered beneath the weight of that present tense” (loc. 302).

    Daniel José Older’s The Book of Lost Saints is a strange, brilliant, gorgeous novel filled with magic and ghosts and love. I love it so, so much and recommend that you pre-order it quickly!

    The book’s narrator is Marisol. A ghost. She is one of three Cuban sisters, two of whom were lost during the Cuban Revolution. Marisol, the youngest, has returned in spirit form to seek vengeance and to discover the truth of her disappearance before her spirit also disappears. She haunts her nephew, Ramón, son of Nilda, planting her memories in his dreams in hopes both of being remembered and of spurring him on to investigate the truth of what happened to her.

    Older’s novel is gritty and real, and Marisol is the perfect narrator for such a book. She doesn’t shy away from sex or nudity or violence. Instead, she embraces all that is life, hungry for vitality and eager to anchor herself to the world in all its beauty and ugliness. She is also inherently curious, eager to take in everything about the people around her, about the home she lost, about the world as it is now.

    As we—alongside Ramón—learn Marisol’s story, we begin to see the shape of her life. She and her eldest sister Isabel are drawn in to the Revolution and to the repercussions of the new regime. Ramón, born in the United States, has never been to Cuba but nevertheless deals with the fallout that has followed his community even as they tried to leave war behind.

    This is a rich, rich story, full of romance and love, violence and revolution, loyalty and spite. There are friendships and betrayals, old ties and new alliances. It’s a master work of discovery as we watch Marisol learn the truth of her own life and Ramón understand the history that haunts his family and, therefore, himself. Daniel José Older’s beautiful writing, brilliant imagination, and keen sense of history have produced a brilliant novel in The Book of Lost Saints.

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