Unbelievably, with five hours in the car a few weekends ago, I read all 400 pages of Vigil: A Novel, by Cecilia Samartin.
First, I have to be honest: I’m not sure I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. I want to be frank about that. I think the writing is great, but I have some issues with the morals.
That said, I do think it’s a good read, with some caveats. One caveat is that this isn’t for young readers. AT ALL. Another caveat is that there’s some explicit material.
In this book, we find out about young Ana’s tragic youth. There’s a backdrop of El Salvadoran history that I appreciated, and a segue to a Catholic convent that felt real. In fact, I thought the Catholic parts of this novel were right on target…to a point.
She makes it to the United States, makes her home in a convent, and right before she’s set to make her vows in that convent, gets an assignment to be a nanny. I thought I knew where it was going, but it didn’t turn into Sound of Music, and the writing didn’t stop being flawless.
The point that made me stumble and sputter, came near the end of the book, when we find out that Ana’s going to have a chance to really be in love. It’s an interesting point, a point where there’s a choice the author had to make about how to deal with some morals. I suppose it was the point at which the novel turned into a romance.
I’m not a reader of romances, though, I’ll admit, I am a hopeless romantic. (That means I should read Georgette Heyer someday, right?)
To keep this review mostly spoiler-free, let’s just say I didn’t agree with how the author resolved things.
I know, life is like that. I know, sometimes we don’t get the “correct” resolutions to moral dilemmas.
Without naming specifics (though I will in the comments, so a big spoiler alert there), I contend that a practicing Catholic character — one who was discerning a call to religious life in the early parts of the book, one who was supposed to be still faithful to her faith and the teachings of the Church — might not have immediately made the decisions she did.
Or maybe she would. We’re all human, right?
But isn’t the point of literature to show us the ideal, or, lacking the ideal, to show us how we go about our lives keeping the bright light of God’s will in front of us to guide us?
So. What do you think? Have you read this book? Will you read this book? If you do, please let me know what you think. More of my thoughts (spoilers!) in the comments.