TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
K.L. Going is the author of "Fat Kid Rules the World," and here she provides the story of another high school misfit. Iggy is a sixteen year-old freshman (he's been kept behind twice), who gets expelled from school shortly before Christmas after allegedly threatening a teacher. Iggy only has a few days to prepare his case for a hearing with the school superintendent, but there's really no one to help him. Iggy's parents are both junkies — his meth addict mom has, in fact, just disappeared again — and a violent dealer named Freddie keeps showing up and threatening him. Iggy's apartment in a high-rise project is a roach-infested mess, and when he decides to leave, he quickly finds he has no place to go. Iggy turns to his only friend, a Zen-spouting college dropout named Mo. Unfortunately, Mo also happens to be a pothead. When Mo graduates to harder drugs, which he can't afford, Iggy has no choice but to help Mo come up with $2,000 in one week or risk a violent confrontation with Freddie.
The boys end up staying at the posh NYC apartment of Mo's mom, where Iggy at last finds some comfort and kindness. Mo is terribly mean to his mother, constantly arguing with her about her "materialistic" ways and rejecting her every attempt to improve their relationship. Mo's mom, who is both compassionate and generous, tries to help Iggy instead, even encouraging him to visit a local church and investigate different technical schools. Looming over Iggy's small bit of Christmas cheer, though, is Mo's increasing drug use and the approaching deadline to pay off Freddie.
This is a very thoughtful, rather sad book filled with some interesting imagery involving vibrant colors. Since the story is narrated by Iggy, the reader sees exactly how alone and confused he is. Iggy's attempts to change his life — he imagines all sorts of scenarios where people will realize they were wrong about him — are poignant failures. This is an "easy" read in the sense that it's a fairly short novel; it is, however, quite intense and thought-provoking. To be honest, at times I didn't know if it was worth it to continue reading such a depressing, seemingly hopeless story. High school age readers who are looking for a thought-provoking novel might find "Saint Iggy" a worthwhile read. Anyone looking for something light or fun, however, would do best to avoid it.