Saint Iggy

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Saint Iggy Book Poster Image
Gritty, powerful tale of growing up -- teens only.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The book gives a picture of life in the underbelly of the city.

Positive Messages

Though the book is filled with drugs, they are not at all appealing, and the main character does not use them, though is offered many chances to do so.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the main character wants to do good, he has no idea how to begin, and there are no role models here. Iggy's view of Mo's relationship with his mother might make some teens have more appreciation of their own parents.


A boy kills a man and is in turn shot by police. A dealer breaks the fingers of a man who hasn't paid and breaks another's skull. A teen has violent fantasies.


A reference to getting laid, another to looking down a girl's shirt, and one to balls. A scene of making out, a married father has an affair.


Some swearing: "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "goddamn."


Food, tissue, fast food, sneaker, car, toy brands mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

This is a story about a boy with junkie parents and a druggie friend. There are many drug references, to pot, meth, heroin, drug dealers, alcohol, shooting up. Teens and adults are drunk and drugged into a stupor. A baby is born addicted.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, while not glamorizing them at all, drugs are central to the story and to the culture in which the main characters live. There's also some swearing, violence, and sexual references.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 16 years old Written bydoubleewill December 16, 2011

Sait Iggy

This book teaches kids about the reasons to do good in school, and about real life situations.
Teen, 15 years old Written byjacki15 May 14, 2010

What's the story?

Iggy is about to be kicked out of school. His hearing is on Friday, but his junkie mother disappeared weeks ago and his junkie father is permanently strung out on the couch, so Iggy's on his own. But when his principal sends him home he says something to Iggy that sticks in his head: "We can all make something of ourselves, no matter what our situation." Iggy decides this means that if he can only figure out a way to change the way people see him he can turn his life around. But living in the projects with no parents to help, and his only friend a druggie who wants to be a Hare Krishna, this may well be an impossible undertaking.

Is it any good?

This author is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful YA novelists working today, and this books is certainly evidence. K.L. Going has that ability of only the very best writers to devastate her readers with quiet little moments in which nothing bad is happening. The scene in which Iggy wanders into a church and rearranges the creche to fit his view of reality (see From the Book below) is as poignant a scene as you are likely to read this year. This is a story about a boy who never had a chance in life, and never will, and yet he is sweet, funny, and sure that he can turn his life around if only the right opportunity will present itself. Iggy is one of those characters, hard to forget, who makes you see those around you in a slightly different way.

Imagine Holden Caulfield, a sweet, compassionate, heartbreakingly clueless kid, about to be kicked out of school, adrift in the city at Christmas time, and haunted by the horrors of his past. But instead of an upper-class kid being kicked out of a posh prep school, he is the child of junkies, his mother gone, his father permanently strung-out, living in the projects, born addicted, slightly addled but relentlessly hopeful in a situation that is truly hopeless in an uncaring world. That's Iggy, the protagonist of this gritty Catcher in the Rye for the 21st century.

From the Book:
So now I stand there thinking about all the crazy things that happen in the world, like babies born in barns and worse, being put in garbage pails, and I think how this whole manger scene is wrong because really it would never have happened like this.

I decide I will fix it, and first I take out Joseph because dads are hardly ever around, and then I move those shepherds out of the way because if that kid really was born in a barn then the police would get involved and it would be all "Move along, there's nothing to see here," and then I turn the rich guys around so they are headed in the opposite direction because if three rich guys found a baby in a manger they would hightail it out of there. That leaves the mom and the kid, so I stare at those two figures trying to decide if the mom stays or goes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Iggy's choices. Does he have any? How could he get out of his horrible situation?

  • What are some of the ways his perception of reality is skewed? Does this help or hurt him? Would it be better or worse for him if he saw things the way they really are and faced the dark truths in his life?

  • Why is he being expelled? Does the way he tells the story seem likely? Is it possible that his perception of the situation is inaccurate? What do you think really happened?

Book details

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