Monday, March 19, 2018

Saints for All Occasions; J. Courtney Sullivan and Census; Jesse Ball

Both of these books were ones I finished in February but neglected to post my mini reviews.  I enjoyed them both even though they were nothing alike.

 Saints for All Occasions; J. Courtney Sullivan
Knopf - 2017

I fell in love with the cover art of Saints for All Occasions and had a hunch I'd enjoy the book, which I did.

In 1957 two young sisters, Nora 21 and Theresa Flynn 17 are bound for the US from Ireland hoping for a better life.  Nora is the older sister and a mother figure for Theresa.  Theresa is everything that Nora is not - smart, popular, out going. Nora imagines her sister will have the perfect life in America but, things don't exactly work out the way she imagined that they would.  Theresa is seduced by a married man and finds herself pregnant and Nora must protect her sister and do whatever it takes. Set in (2) time periods late 1950s and then 2009, the sisters must confront the past and deal with the choices that were made many years earlier.

I liked the great character development and found this to be an enjoyable story overall.

4.5/5 stars

Census; Jesse Ball
Ecco - 2018

Census was a quick and somewhat unusual read but, I liked it very much.

The story begins with an unnamed man digging his own grave. The man, a widower, a former surgeon is gravely ill and his concern is not what is about to happen to him but, what will happen to his son who has Down's Syndrome.

The man decides to take a job as a census taker for the government and father and son take to the road in an unnamed country, visiting various counties (A-Z). Each chapter is short and represents one of the counties along their journey and the individuals they meet, on what will be their final journey together.

This story is a brief meditation on loss, love and the meaning of life. It was written as a tribute to the author's brother who died of complications of Down's Syndrome at the age of 24.

4/5 stars


  1. I read Maine and it was too character driven for me so I've avoided Sullivan's work since then. Maybe I should give Saints a try.

  2. I've been meaning to read Saints for All Occasions... thanks for the reminder!

  3. Those both sound really good in different ways.

  4. Both of these sound interesting. Census sounds like it would make me all choked up thinking about death and my own child.

  5. I really like the sound of the first one. Second one maybe.

  6. Census does sound pretty interesting.

  7. They both sound good, but Census tugs at my heartstrings more.

  8. I'm sure I'll read the Sullivan book at some point so I'm glad to read your thoughts on it!

  9. Both sound good and a bit sad.

  10. These both sound very good, Diane! I think I'd like to listen to the Sullivan book, but read Census in print. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

  11. I have been curious about Census, so I am glad to have your thoughts on that one.

  12. Both books do sound terrific--I also love the cover of Saints for All Occasions. Very evocative, and I like immigrant stories in general--it takes a lot of courage to leave your home and find a new one.

  13. I thought Saints was well done, though Nora frustrated me at times in the story. Here are my thoughts on it at

  14. Oh I haven't heard of this one, sounds like an emotive read, thanks for sharing xxx


  15. Glad to hear you enjoyed Saints for All Occasions! I loved Maine by the same author and have this one waiting on my shelves, I'm really looking forward to reading it.


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