Saints of the Household

Saints of the Household cover
Saints of the Household by Ari Tison

By Ari Tison
Farrar Straus Giroux / Macmillan, 2023
312 pages

Age 14 and older

Brothers Jay and Max, 11 months apart, are high school seniors in Minnesota. They live with their mother, who is Bribri (Indigenous Costa Rican), and their physically abusive white dad. The two live on high alert. Because their dad is much less likely to hurt their mom if one of them is around, they make sure she’s alone with him as little as possible. Jay and Max are also in counseling after beating up a classmate named Luca, their cousin Nicole’s boyfriend, when they were sure he was physically threatening her. But after their father is arrested and sent to jail, the tight bond between the brothers begins to fray. Jay is smart but has never considered leaving his mom to go college. He continues to spend most of his free time at home, or with Nicole, and remains fixated on the danger Luca represents. Meanwhile, Max is working on his portfolio for his art school application, secretly dating a girl named Melody, and frustrated by his brother’s disinterest in the future. When the growing tension between the two erupts into violence, the presence of their Bribri grandfather, who comes to spend a few weeks, is calming for Jay especially, helping the brothers make steps toward reconciliation and independent, hopeful futures. This beautifully written exploration of the impact of family trauma and abuse is written in Max’s and Jay’s alternating voices; Max in verse and Jay in prose. ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center