The Head of the Saint

by Socorro Acioli

Fourteen-year-old Samuel travels to his father’s hometown to fulfill his mother’s... read more

Fourteen-year-old Samuel travels to his father’s hometown to fulfill his mother’s dying wish that he light a candle at the statue of St. Anthony there. Samuel also plans to kill his father, who abandoned his mother and him years before. Candeia is a run-down village and Samuel finds no sign of his father when he arrives. Sheltering in a grotto in the nearby woods, he realizes it’s the giant head of the statue of St. Anthony, which was never completed. Inside the head, Samuel can hear local women praying to the saint, all of them longing for love. Samuel sees no reason why he shouldn’t help answer the women’s prayers. With the help of two young men he meets, Samuel begins nudging budding romances into blossom. Soon, women and pilgrims are flocking to Candeia and the small town slowly comes back to life. Samuel wonders who the voice of one mysterious young woman that is sweeter than all the others belongs to. He also wonders about his father, who was the unfinished statue’s engineer, and his wealthy grandmother, who has remained sequestered in her home for years. Mystery and comedy and goodness all are woven into the fabric of a story that also reflects the realities of poverty, politics, and religion in a small Brazilian town where a young man who arrived with nothing finds community, family, friendship, and love. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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