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The Possibilities of Sainthood

The Possibilities of Sainthood Cover




Chapter One


I Pray to St. Sebastian About Gym

Class and Thank God Im Not Named After

the Patron Saint of Snakebites


I gazed up at the familiar boy. A golden aura surrounds his beautiful, muscular body, arrows poking into him from every direction.

Poor saint, I thought to myself. I hope it doesnt hurt. Sebastians stare was piercing, as if he were looking right through me. As if his gaze were another arrow pointed my way.

I closed my eyes but the image stayed. It should. The picture of St. Sebastian had been hanging on the wall in our living room for as long as I could remember, right near the old-fashioned record player my mother listened to when she was dusting all the other saint statues and figurines, her daily tribute to the men and women who watch over us. Occasionally Id come home from school and Mom would be belting out “Thats Amore” or “Volare” in her just-off-the-boat Italian accent. I had to be careful not to bring anyone up to the apartment when I heard music playing, or they might think she was crazy. Shes a character, my mother.

But then, all Catholics are a weird bunch. Especially the Italian ones.

I opened my eyes and read quietly from my Saint Diary.

Dear St. Sebastian:

O Patron Saint of Athletes, please help me not look stupid tomorrow in gym class when we play soccer even though I am not very fast, kick the ball in the wrong direction occasionally, and sometimes forget which team Im on. And I promise I wont sit down out on the field this time if they make me play defense again and I get bored. Ideally, Id like to play more like Hilary, our star soccer player (even though she is named after the Patron Saint of Snakebites). But if I can t be as good as Hilary, Ill settle for just not getting picked last. And dont forget about Mrs. Bevalaqua. It would be really great if her arthritis got better so she could walk again. Thank you, St. Sebastian, for your intercession in these matters.

I lit the worn-down pillar candle beneath sexy Sebastian and gave him a longing look, as if I could will him to step out of his frame. It was right about then that my moment alone with the half-naked, holy babe was interrupted.

“Time to get ready for bed, Antonia! Its getting late and you have school tomorrow,” Mom yelled from the kitchen.

“Im praying,” I called back, my voice all “Please dont interrupt my saint time,” aware that the surest way into whatever flexibility my mother could offer was through piety.

“Five more minutes, then!”

I started to close my diary when I noticed that the corner of my St. Anthony mass card was peeling. I smoothed the edge gently, lovingly, as if I were brushing the cheek of Andy Rotellini, the boy Id been in love with since the summer before ninth grade. A crease was beginning to mark the murky blue sky surrounding Anthony, dark against the gleam of his halo. I dipped my pinkie into the pool of hot wax around the candlewick and placed a tiny drop on the corner of the card, refastening it to the page. Below St. Anthonys image was a pocket made of thick, red linen paper, stuffed with devotions and prayers, some on random scraps of this and that, others scribbled on colorful Post-its. Anthonys page had more devotions than any other saint in my diary.

My Saint Diaries were my most sacred possessions.

“Im praying, Mommy,” said a voice behind me, sing-song and catty, sending a shiver up my spine. Not the scary sort of shiver or even the good kind, but the “blech” kind you felt when you met up with something disgusting. “Im such a good little holier-than-thou girl, Mommy,” the voice went on, its nasal tone like nails against a chalkboard.

“Veronica,” I said, whirling around to face my cousin— who also starred as the evil nemesis in my life, not to be overly melodramatic or anything, because it is totally true. Veronica is eVil with a capital V. I tucked my Saint Diary behind me, making sure it was hidden.

Veronica was at the apartment trying to learn some of the Italian cookie recipes from my mother because her mother, my aunt Silvia, was determined that at least one of her three daughters would turn out to be a kitchen natural and grow up to usurp my mother at the family store. Id thought I could successfully avoid Veronicas visit, but I was wrong. My blood began to boil, but I took comfort in the fact that Veronicas outfit was way too tight and her hair was so teased and sprayed that she was the caricature of a Rhode Island Mall Rat. “Remember when you used to be a nice person and people like me could actually stand to be around you?” I asked, once I knew my temper was in check.

“Remember when you used to not be such a total baby?” Sarcasm oozed from Veronicas voice. Something— maybe almond paste?—was smeared down the side of her face. I bet she squeezed it straight from the tube into her mouth like a greedy glutton. “You and your mother think youre so high and mighty.”

“Veronica . . .” my mother was calling. “Veronica? If you are not here to watch, you are never going to learn how to fold these egg whites into the batter properly . . . Yoohoo! Where are you?”

“Yeah, yeah, Im coming, Auntie,” she said, rolling her eyes and disappearing back down the hall. Her footsteps thudded against the wood floor. Thud. Thud.

My cousin, the elephant.

As soon as Veronica was gone, the tension disappeared from my body. I grabbed my Saint Diary from where Id stashed it and sighed with relief.

My Saint Diaries were also my most secret possessions.

Each year on my birthday, February 14, St. Valentines Day, I began a new volume, fixing different colored pockets onto the pages of a thick book, compiling a section marked “Notes” for my new saint ideas (like a Patron Saint of Homework or a Patron Saint of Notice—as in “Notice me, please, Andy Rotellini!”). Most important of all, I chose which out of the many thousands of official saints to venerate during the year. Tradition, my tradition, dictated that St. Anthony of Padua, the Patron Saint for Lost Things, got page number one. Always.

Volume 8, the record of my fifteenth year, was rose red, my favorite color.

In the back was a section for the occasional, precious response letter from the Vatican. (Really they were rejection letters, but I liked to think of them as responses because that sounded less depressing.) I held on to these to remind myself that at least they knew I existed. For the hope that one day, I might just get through to them.

You know, The Vatican People.

Any day now, the news would arrive. My Patron Saint of Figs proposal was a winner. I could feel it.

“Antonia! Sbrigati!” my mother yelled, shattering this moment of hope with her Im-getting-angry voice and an Italian command that loosely translated as “Get your butt off to bed immediately and dont tell me youre still praying because I wont buy it this time.” Early bedtime somehow applied to me but not my cousin.

I faced Sebastian one last time, the heat of the candle flame warm on my chin. “St. Sebastian,” I whispered, gazing into his blue eyes, “if you can help me figure out the saint thing, Id really appreciate it. Its already been thirteen days since I sent the last letter.”

“Antonia Lucia Labella!” (Thats “lou-chia,” by the way, like the pet.)

“Okay, one more last thing,” I said, tempting the full force of Moms rage, my lips level with Sebastians now, as if we were about to kiss. “Even though I know that technically in the Catholic church you have to be dead to be a saint, I really dont want to die if you can help it. Fifteen is too young to die.”

I blew out the candle. A thin stream of smoke drifted up from the blackened wick, reaching toward heaven, and I wondered if Id soon follow, joining all those whod gone before me.

In a manner befitting a saint.


Excerpted from THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas.

Copyright © 2008 by Donna Freitas.

Published in 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Product Details

Square Fish
Situations / Dating & Sex
Freitas, Donna
Conduct of life
Family life
Social Issues - Dating & Sex
Social Issues - Adolescence
Family - General
Situations / Adolescence
Social Issues/Dating
Family/General (see also headings under Social Issues)
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction-Adolescence
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction
Edition Description:
Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 7 up to 12
8.26 x 5.49 x 0.84 in
Age Level:

Related Subjects

Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Adolescence
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Dating and Sex
Young Adult » General

The Possibilities of Sainthood
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 304 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374360870 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Fresh and funny, this debut novel introduces a 15-year-old Catholic schoolgirl who experiences typical adolescent angst but has her own way of dealing with it: Antonia regularly petitions the saints. Longing for her first kiss, she settles on St. Augustine as an intercessor ('Hark back to your wayward youth,' she urges him in her Saint Diary), but when her prayer gets her more aggressive action than she bargained for, Antonia decides to fill the gap in hagiography and proposes herself as the patron saint of the first kiss. Her e-mails to the Vatican (inhabited here by a pope open to the notion of women priests, gay marriage, etc.) add flair to a coming-of-age novel already vivid for its warm portrayal of urban Italian-American family life. 'My daughter looks like a puttana! What have I done to deserve this?' shrieks Antonia's widowed mother when she catches Antonia rolling up the waist of her school uniform (Antonia's list of the 'Top Five Ways Italians Express Love' begins with 'by being totally honest with each other, i.e., fighting'). While getting at serious issues, Freitas (author of Killing the Imposter God and a frequent contributor to PW) wins readers over with a beautifully sustained light touch. Ages 12 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Antonia Lucia Labella wants to be a saint. For eight years, 15-year-old Antonia has sent a petition to the Vatican proposing a new patron saint and offering herself for the post. She soon learns that in matters of the heart and sainthood, things are about as straightforward as wound-up linguini.
"Synopsis" by ,
Two boys. One girl. A first kiss. And a secret wish for . . . sainthood?
"Synopsis" by ,
My name saint is famous for her purity. Her untouched-by-boys-ness.

I am also famous for this, by concidence.

Antonia Lucia Labella has two secrets: At fifteen, shes still waiting for her first kiss, and she wants to be a saint. An official one. Unfortunately, the two events seem equally unlikely to happen, but its not for lack of trying. Every month for the last eight years, Antonia has proposed a new patron saint to the Vatican, bravely offering herself for the post. (So what if shes not dead?) And shes been praying for the attention of the tall, dark, and so good-looking Andy Rotellini way too long to admit. But then theres her friend Michael McGinnis. Antonia doesnt even know what to ask the saints to do about that situation. Hes kissed all the girls in school. Should she just get it over with and kiss Michael? Not a chance! Prospective saints never give up that easily.

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