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Home > Book, Book Review, Reviews, Young Adult > Book Review – Saints of Augustine by P. E. Ryan

Book Review – Saints of Augustine by P. E. Ryan

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Book Description:

Sam and Charlie used to be best friends. But then Sam cut Charlie out of his life—no explanation, no discussion, nothing.

Fast-forward one year, and both Sam’s and Charlie’s lives are spiraling out of control. Sam has a secret he’s finding harder and harder to hide, and Charlie is dealing with an increasingly absent dad and a dealer whose threats are anything but empty. Now, during the sticky Florida summer before their senior year, the ex-best friends are thrown together once again when they have no one else to turn to.

A year had passed like smoke in a breeze. Suddenly, later was now.

*

Okay, I can say without reservation that Saints of Augustine by P. E. Ryan is one of the best young adult books I’ve read this year. For me, Mr Ryan’s honest and real portrayal of the ex-bestfriends Sam and Charlie ranks up there with many of my most loved characters from, say, Beverly Cleary. We really get inside both boys’ heads since the book switches POV each chapter between the high-school jock Charlie and school paper editor Sam.

The story is set in the summer before senior year, and both Charlie and Sam aren’t exactly having the time of their lives away from each other. Charlie is reeling from the abandonment by his bestfriend Sam, the loss of his mother, and the subsequent retreat of his father into withdrawal and alcohol. To make things worse, he’s also hiding a pot habit from his girlfriend, and is being threatened by his pot dealer.

Meanwhile, Sam’s dealing with some major problems of his own too – his parent’s acrimonious separation, his mom’s new homophobic boyfriend, the suspicion that his dad may be gay … and angsting over whether he himself is gay or not. The appearance of out and proud Justin in Sam’s life precipitates a chain of events that ultimately reaches a crisis that brings both Sam and Charlie together again.

I really have to stress how ‘real’ all the characters are in Saints of Augustine – it’s not just Sam and Charlie, it’s also their family members and friends. There’s really outstanding characterization by P.E. Ryan plus a believable & effective use of dialogue. You are going to end up caring deeply for the characters, and hoping that they get to work through all their issues.

This book could so easily have been preachy and weighty – it teaches so many lessons on true friendship, owning up to oneself & others, honesty, trust – but the author manages escape that with the use of humor and smart writing. P. E. Ryan is a really gifted writer, and I was surprised to learn that Saints of Augustine is his first book geared to the teen market.

Lastly, I really loved how P. E. Ryan was able to show us a genuine friendship between a straight boy and a gay boy, and how the best friends can reconnect despite distance or time. I really highly recommend this book – and for those worried about the gay theme, the book is written for teens and IMO nothing portrayed in the book should worry parents.

Saints of Augustine by P. E. Ryan is available on Amazon as a Library Binding ($3.45), or Paperback ($2.97). There is no Kindle edition for some strange reason.

But eBook versions are available on B&N Nook and Sony eBookstore. Wonder why no Kindle version (the publisher should correct this oversight, right)?

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