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Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler

Saint Maybe (1991)

by Anne Tyler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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My F2F book club really liked this novel. We'd definitely read more of Anne Tyler's works. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 9, 2016 |
The Bedloes seemed to be a perfect family. When oldest son Danny married a divorcee with two children, they found a way to accommodate his less-than-perfect choice into the family image. The baby born less than nine months after the marriage was just premature, wasn't she? Youngest son Ian has a growing awareness of the difference between the facade the family presents to the world and the reality of their lives. One fatal night Ian can't hold his tongue any longer, and life changes forever for the Bedloes. Ian will spend the rest of his life trying to atone for his thoughtless words and their consequence for his family, with the help of the Church of the Second Chance.

In a Harlequin novel, a young, handsome, single man raising his brother's children would meet a beautiful woman who bonds instantly with the children. After a few ups and downs, they would fall madly in love, marry, and live happily ever after. Anne Tyler didn't write a Harlequin novel. She takes a pivotal event in the life of an average family and traces its effect over succeeding decades. Years lapse between chapters. While the characters age, they're still living out the consequences of a single choice. Or maybe two choices. When Ian stumbles upon the Church of the Second Chance, it becomes his lifeline. However, it's a non-traditional church with unorthodox doctrine, and instead of providing solace and healing, Reverend Emmett's faulty teaching sentences Ian to a lifetime of penance.

”...Don't you think I'm forgiven?”

“Goodness, no,” Reverend Emmett said briskly.

Ian's mouth fell open. He wondered if he'd misunderstood. He said, “I'm not forgiven?”

“Oh, no.”

“But . . . I thought that was kind of the point,” Ian said. “I thought God forgives everything.”

“He does,” Reverend Emmett said. “But you can't just say, 'I'm sorry, God.' Why, anyone could do that much! You have to offer reparation—concrete, practical reparation, according to the rules of our church.”

“But what if there isn't any reparation? What if it's something nothing will fix?”

“Well, that's where Jesus comes in, of course.”

Another itchy word: Jesus. Ian averted his eyes.

“Jesus remembers how difficult life on earth can be,” Reverend Emmett told him. “He helps with what you can't undo. But only after you've tried to undo it.”
( )
  cbl_tn | Jan 31, 2016 |
Ian is the youngest of three siblings in an apparently ordinary family who always look on the bright side of everything. Then he decides to tell his brother something he has kept hidden for years. Believable people on the whole, in rather typical Tyler-like situations which are often bizarre but not impossible. Quite enjoyable and thought-provoking ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
This was not an enjoyable book, but it was a good book. It made me uncomfortable, and it made me cry. It's still amazing to me that words on paper can evoke that kind of emotion.

I'm also still trying to figure out just what Tyler was trying to say about religion and redemption with this one. This book is an interesting commentary on the perception of sin. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Ian Bedsoe meddles with his brother's marriage and ends up caring for his three children and seeking absolution for his actions. Tyler is known for her 'domestic' novels, and this is certainly one of them, as she follows Ian and his accidental family through 16 years of child-rearing, prayer and other family affairs. The writing is fine, but the book didn't really excite me. I suspect it was the very nature of the story - I felt distanced from Ian and from everyone else with the possible exception of his youngest niece, who grows up to be a person I would have liked to know. ( )
  ffortsa | Jan 10, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tyler, Anneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flothuis, MeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0449911608, Paperback)

Tyler makes things look so easy that she never gets enough credit, yet she portrays everyday Americans with such humor, grace and, ultimately, emotional force that her books are always deeply satisfying. In Saint Maybe her protagonist Ian Bedloe, stricken with guilt over the death of his older brother, raises three children unrelated to him by blood. He is strengthened in this Herculean task by the storefront Church of the Second Chance, to which he devotes himself with equal fervor. Someone once said all great writers are comic writers. Among living Americans, Tyler is exhibit A.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:04 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"The happy Bedloe family is living the ideal existence in Baltimore in the 1960s, until a tragic event occurs and 17-year-old Ian Bedloe blames himself for the accidental death of his older brother." "Depressed and depleted, Ian is almost crushed under the weight of an unbearable, secret guilt. Then one crisp January evening, he catches sight of a window with glowing yellow neon, the 'Church of the Second Chance.' He enters and soon discovers that forgiveness must be earned, through a bit of sacrifice and a lot of concern..."… (more)

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