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The Possibilities of Sainthood Hardcover – August 5, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 7 Up—Antonia Lucia Labella, 15, strives to become the first living saint in the history of the Catholic Church. She petitions various saints for any number of reasons, big and small, serious and amusing. Every month for the last eight years, she has written to the Vatican with a new idea for a patron saint for everything from fig trees to kisses and offered herself as a candidate for the position. Her first request after the death of her father was to become the Patron Saint of Daddy's Heart. Each suggestion has been met with silence, but Antonia hasn't given up hope. The teen's life revolves around working at Labella's Market (the best homemade pasta in Rhode Island), school, boys, and saints. Freitas brings to life the protagonist's experiences at a Catholic school and in an immigrant family. First loves and family feuds fill the pages. Antonia wants nothing more than to experience her first kiss with her longtime crush and is horrified when his advances indicate a desire for more. She takes her religion seriously, without proselytizing. With a satisfying ending, this novel about the realistic struggles of a chaste teen is a great addition to all collections.—Cara von Wrangel Kinsey, New York Public Library
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fifteen-year-old Antonia Labella is a busy girl. She goes to Catholic school, helps her widowed mother in the family grocery, and dreams about kissing Andy Rotellini. However, updating her saint diaries is the most pleasurable way to fill her time. Each year Antonia starts a new diary, filling it with pictures and cards of saints to venerate and pasting in copies of her letters to the Vatican as well as the infrequent replies. Antonia writes regularly, noting oversights in patron-saint specializations and recommending the logical candidate to fill the position—that would always be Antonia. First-time novelist Freitas hops into the romance genre and brightens and heightens it by providing characters who are anything but run-of-the-mill (though Mom’s a little stereotypical) and expanding the tale to include a religious fervor not usually seen in today’s teens, not so amusingly anyway. Yes, it’s kind of silly that Antonia thinks she has a shot at being the Patron Saint of the Kiss, but her first-person narrative is so smile inducing, it’s easy to go along with the premise. As Antonia sorts out her feelings for longtime crush Andy, as well as Michael, the boy who makes her blush, readers will be hard-pressed to decide what interests them most—make-out sessions or martyrs. Grades 8-10. --Ilene Cooper

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 970L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374360871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374360870
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,997,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Donna Freitas is the author of both fiction and nonfiction. Over the years she has written for national newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal,The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Newsweek. Donna has been a professor at Boston University in the Department of Religion and also at Hofstra University in their Honors College. She writes children's novels for Scholastic, Harper Collins, and FSG, and she loves it very much! Donna splits her time between Brooklyn, NY and Barcelona, Spain.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Whatcha Reading Now? on September 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Antonia Lucia Labella is immediately likable from the first pages where she petitions the Vatican to name a Patron Saint of Figs and Fig Trees. In this warm and witty novel by Donna Freitas, Antonia's voice is what propels this story forward and makes readers not want to leave her world. She prays her way through gym class, a family celebration that requires her to wear a candle crown ablaze and, most importantly, for a truly divine first kiss. Leaving Antonia behind at the end of the book made me melancholy. I hope we will see more of her in the future.
--Reviewed by Michelle Delisle
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Fifteen-year-old Antonia Lucia Labella lives in Rhode Island with her mom and grandmother. She helps out in the family's Italian grocery store located beneath their apartment and goes to the all-girls Catholic school with her best friend, Maria. She spends most of her remaining free time learning about her favorite subject: saints.

Antonia prays to the saints everyday, and her favorite section in the school library is the one with anything a person ever wanted to know about saints. In fact, she has a secret goal, known only to her grandmother and Maria, which is to become the very first living saint in the history of the Catholic Church. Every month she writes a letter to the Pope, suggesting an area lacking in saint representation --- for example, the Patron Saint of Figs and Fig Trees. And every month she humbly suggests herself to fill the role. The Vatican hasn't shown much interest thus far.

Antonia has another secret, this one known only to Maria. At the age of 15, Antonia has yet to experience a real, romantic kiss. And she is determined to do something about it. The object of her affections is the gorgeous Andy Rotellini, who goes to the boys' Catholic school. So far, he doesn't seem to know she exists, but after her mom hires him to work at the family store, the situation seems to take a turn for the better.

There is one other fellow in Antonia's life, a guy who utterly confuses her. Two years ago, she met Michael McGinnis, and they hung out all summer, quickly becoming friends. But then Michael had to go and ruin it all by trying to kiss Antonia. Two years ago, Antonia wasn't ready for her first big kiss, and she ran away from Michael. She's been pushing away his attentions ever since.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By GreenBeanTeenQueen on July 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I first read about this book, I thought "hmm, sounds cute, but how interesting can a story about a girl obsessed with saints be?" But I was wonderfully surprised! This story has heart and a wonderfully cohesive family that you don't see often in teen fiction.

I loved spending time with Antonia and her big Italian family and Antonia's side comments about being a Catholic School Girl always made me laugh out loud. I also give big cheers to Maria, who is a great example of a true best friend.

Overall, this is a fun story that is a great feel good read. I would recommend to anyone looking for a smart romance with a great cast of characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mae Day on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Antonia has two goals in life. Her first goal is to be the first living saint. Yes, you read that right. She wants to be a saint. So, in her quest to be the first living saint, she has launched a letter writing campaign that has been going on for years. Every month she'll write to the Vatican Committee and suggest what saint she could be. Then, every month, she receives a rejection letter. But, Antonia doesn't let that get her down. She just puts the letter up and starts on next months idea. The only people who know about her obsession is her best friend, Maria, her mother and her grandmother.

Antonia's second goal is to be kissed. Which almost happened once with her friend, Michael, but Antonia chickened out and ran away from him. So now, she still hasn't been kissed and she doesn't talk to Michael much anymore. Which isn't too bad, since the boys and girls go to separate schools. Antonia has a crush on a boy named Andy, who goes to the boy's school. But, Antonia thinks that Andy is out of her league. What Antonia doesn't expect, though is for her love life to get more confusing than she ever thought it could.

Antonia is a very quirky and likable character. I was kind of skeptical about this book at first, because I'm not Catholic and didn't know if the book would be preachy or I wouldn't understand some of the things going on. I'm glad I went ahead and picked it up, because the book is definitely not preachy. It's just your regular coming of age story, with a little bit of a twist. The letters that Antonia writes to the Vatican Committee are highly entertaining and kept me laughing. This is a very easy read. Hope to read more from Ms. Freitas in the future!

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Katie C. on January 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Antonia Lucia Labella wants desperately to become the first living saint in the Catholic Church's history. She prays to her beloved saints everyday and petitions the Vatican once a month to not only point out the blatant lack of certain patron saints, but also to offer herself up for the post. As a fifteen-year-old Catholic high school student, she also finds herself desperate to fend off her three nasty cousins and finally grab that elusive first kiss with the guy who she believes to be her one true love. Will Antonia really become the first living saint? Will Andy Rotellini finally kiss Antonia? What about longtime friend Michael, who always seems to be vying for Antonia's attention?

"The Possibilities of Sainthood" is a great novel by Donna Freitas. It is well written, lighthearted, and fun with a humorous story line. I found it impossible not to root for Antonia as she fights so hard to get what she really wants and to contend with her old school Italian family at the same time. If you are Catholic and/or Italian, you may even identify some of the characters with friends and family in your own life. It is, however, very girlie and probably will not appeal to teen boys. It is a quick read that might be promising for hesitant or reluctant readers. All in all, this book gets a full five stars from me and I would highly recommend it.
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