Bones of a Saint by Grant Farley

Book Cover
Bones of a Saint by Grant Farley

Publisher: Soho Press, Soho Teen

Date of Publication: March 16th, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited Arc

Received: Publisher

Trigger Warning: Drug/Alcohol Use, Child getting paddled at Catholic school

Goodreads Synopsis:

Set in Northern California in the late ’70s, this timeless coming-of-age story examines the nature of evil, the art of storytelling, and the possibility of redemption.

Fifteen-year-old RJ Armante has never known a life outside his dead-end hometown of Arcangel, CA. The Blackjacks still rule as they have for generations, luring the poorest kids into their monopoly on petty crime. For years, they’ve left RJ alone…until now.

When the Blackjacks come knocking, they want RJ to prey upon an old loner. But RJ is at his breaking point. It’s not just about the gang who rules the town. It’s about Charley, his younger brother, who is disabled. It’s about Roxanne, the girl he can’t reach. It’s about the kids in his crew who have nothing to live for. If RJ is to resist, he must fight to free Arcangel of its past.

First Line:

The priest climbed the trail into the foothills as the mission bell tolled matins.

Bones of a saint by Grant Farley


I tend to wish for a lot of books on NetGalley. Bones of a Saint was one of those books that I wished for. I was surprised when I checked my email and saw that NetGalley had granted my wish. I was beyond excited. I had been seeing reviews for Bones of a Saint, and the good majority of them were positive.

Bones of a Saint was a fast-paced book. Even though the book was fast-paced, I was able to keep up with the main storyline. I do sometimes have an issue with keeping up with fast-paced books. I end up having to reread specific chapters, in most cases. In sporadic cases, I end up getting frustrated and turned off from the book. Thankfully, in this case, I didn’t have issues keeping up with the book.

The storyline for Bones of a Saint was interesting. Set in the late ’70s, a local gang has the town in its grips. RJ had kept under their radar until the night he was forced into a meeting with the leader. The leader, a hippie, is mad that an older man had moved into a house used as the gang’s hideout. He wanted RJ, his friend, and RJ’s disabled brother to vandalize the place. That sets off a series of events that end up defining RJ’s entire summer and changing his life.

The beginning of Bones of a Saint had me going, “WTF.” It made zero sense, and I was trying to figure out why a priest was hiking around in the desert. But, it is explained but not until the very last chapter. I ended up rereading the prologue, and a lightbulb went off over my head. I think it would have been better as an epilogue than a prologue.

The author amazingly wrote the characters in Bones of a Saint. The main character, RJ, was rough around the edges but had a heart of gold. He helped his mother (a single mother in the late 70s) without a second thought. He made friends with an older man and then tried to shield him from the local gang. He was a good kid, and I was worried for 75% of the book that the gang would get its hooks in him.

I had my theories about Mr. Leguin and why he was holed up at the house. His friendship with RJ was one of the sweetest that I have read. There was a big twist in his storyline that startled me but at the same time made me go, “Oh well, that makes sense now.

The storyline with the Blackjacks was interesting, but it ran out of steam for me halfway through the book. I figured things would go the way they went. So, I wasn’t amazed at the end of the book.

There is so much more I could get into with this review, but I am afraid that I will give away spoilers. Everything in this book is intertwined. Nothing is a coincidence. If you read this book, keep that in mind.

The end of Bones of a Saint was breathtaking. There was action, Mr. Leguin told long-held secrets, and the identity of the priest is revealed. This was one of the best coming of age stories that I have read in a while!!

Bones of a Saint was a fast-paced emotional coming of age story. The plotline was engaging and the characters unforgettable.

I would recommend Bones of a Saint to anyone over the age of 16. There is no sex (not even kissing). There are references to drug use and alcohol use. There are some mild violence and mild language. There is one scene where RJ gets paddled at his Catholic school, but it was not graphic.

3 thoughts on “Bones of a Saint by Grant Farley

  1. Wonderful review Jolie. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, so this book does appeal to me. I see the audiobook is also available on NG, so I shall see if I get approved.

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