The Saint of Santa Fe
Yes, it's a book about this diminutive and extraordinary young priest, but it’s probably more important as a book about who Panamanians are and what we can be.
The Panama News
The message of the novel could have been a pessimistic one – that a good man is easily defeated by the forces of evil. But, by bringing in the other two (narrative) strands, Sirias is able to give the story the positive ending that it deserves: that despite the horror of the way he probably died, the spirit of Hector Gallego still lives, years afterwards, in the community for which he gave his life.
As we learn in The Saint of Santa Fe, Father Gallego was responsible for empowering the disenfranchised to the point where they were perceived as threats to those in power. Those who are looking for a Hollywood plot will not find it here. Instead they will be left with what the real-life disappearance provided—an urging for more questions. That honest approach to this novel is another reason why Sirias is able to convincingly capture our imagination. Sometimes chapters in Latin American history are rife with mysteries, and the author’s tone and style provide a captivating look at one of the darkest and tragic mysteries in Panama’s history.
My husband and I spent three years (1965-1968) working in Veraguas Panama as Papal Volunteers for Latin America, a Catholic organization inspired by Pope John XIII . . . . Although the book is historical fiction, and we did not know everyone in the book, we were able to relive much of the time and history through it. Our memories deemed it quite accurate. We were glad to discover the book prior to leaving for Panama and refresh our memory of one of the greatest experiences of our life.
Mary Ann Marko, Amazon review
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