Tuesday, March 21, 2017

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson: A Review

Tina, also known as Tiny, is a Goonda- a street thug.  Her and her mother are refugees from Congo that have moved to Kenya to escape the militias that have overrun the country.  Her mother worked as a maid for a wealthy business man, Mr. Greyhill, who has done shady business in the past, which her mother threatens to uncover.  When Tina's mother is found dead in Mr. Greyhill's office the very next day, Tina immediately believes that Mr. Greyhill is the one who killed her mother and seeks justice by attempting a heist to steal information from his home.  When Mr. Greyhill's son, Michael, catches Tina in the act, he asks for the chance to prove that his father was not the one who killed Tina's mother.  The two search for information about Tina's mother's past that will prove that Mr. Greyhill did kill her or exonerate him in Tina's mind.

Young Adult fiction is usually not for me.  I have read some YA books that I have really enjoyed (The Hunger Games trilogy comes to mind) but it is a genre that I don't usually connect with unless there is something else in the book that is interesting or meaningful to me.  City of Saints & Thieves was one such book.  It was both a mystery and a multicultural read in one, which really intrigued me and drew me in when I read what the book was about.  From the very first page, I knew this book would meet my expectations for a great book.  I loved Tina and the romantic love-hate relationship that she has with Michael.  There were just as many twists and turns as I would expect from any mystery novel.  There were many revelations at the end that I just didn't see coming.  The author does a very good job of painting a picture of both Kenya and Congo and explains how the conflicts in the area effect the everyday people without taking away from the story being developed.

One of the reasons why I don't usually like YA books is the over-simplistic writing style that YA authors like to use but this really wasn't the case with this book.  It was an easy and quick read that I finished in just a handful of sittings but it wasn't overly so.  Also common in a lot of YA fiction are very one dimensional characters.  The characters that Anderson has created are complex and interesting.  Tina may be a thief but she has a soft heart for her younger sister and feels for those around her.  Michael genuinely wants to find out who killed Tina's mom, even if that will lead to him realizing it really was his father who did so.  Tina's mother is not who Tina thought she was but is still, in some ways, the mother who loved her deeply.  I really enjoyed this book and think that readers of all ages will enjoy it, especially readers who enjoy fiction about contemporary Africa and mysteries.  

Reviews of books like this one:
Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia
Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz
My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry

This book is currently available and can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Read more reviews on this book on Goodreads.

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