Monday, July 21, 2008

Saint Iggy by K.L. Going

Saint Iggy was certainly not what I expected it to be. It is a young adult book, another one written in that first-person diary format that is so popular. But this one does a much better job of actually capturing the voice of the main character. It doesn't sound like an adult would, telling a teen's story - it doesn't even sound like an adult trying to sound like a teen. It sounds like a teen, and one who perhaps has some learning or developmental disability. Iggy himself admits that he was a drug baby, who had to be kept in the hospital when he was born because he was addicted. His voice tells this story beautifully.
Iggy lives with his parents in the projects, but he is not really parented at all. His father is always high, and his mother has been gone, "visiting" somewhere, and he's not sure if she'll be coming back this time. His parents are not bad people - they have worked to keep Iggy with them, despite their drug problems. One thing this book does is show you what drugs can do to a family. Iggy himself does not do any drugs; he knows first-hand how they can ruin your life. But when he gets kicked out of school, he has to figure out what to do, and obviously his parents aren't going to be of much help. He goes to one of his only friends, a law school drop-out who lives in the projects because he feels it brings him closer to "the streets". He and Mo begin a journey that will change both of their lives, though it may seem ordinary at the start.
The journey that Iggy takes in this book is mostly figurative, but it is life-changing. Iggy's voice is funny and clearly true to who he is. He does not try to be anyone else, even though he is doing his best to figure out how to be a better person. This book is fantastic because it can be thoroughly understood and enjoyed by even the most reluctant reader, but it will also entrance someone who thinks they have read everything in the genre.

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